It was an unusually long 2 hours, 41 minutes Budget speech by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, where she tried to come across as 'pro-farmer' while devising a new tax regime aimed at the middle class. However, beyond the couplets and promises, the specifics showed either no increase in allocation or marginal.
This is the second budget for Sitharaman, who became the second woman finance minister after Indira Gandhi to do so in the history of independent India. The finance minister proposed raising customs duty on a variety of products ranging from tableware and kitchenware, electrical appliances to footwear, furniture, stationery and toys to give a level playing field to domestic companies and boost 'Make in India'.
Here are the reactions of political leaders on Sitharaman's budget:
Slamming the Budget, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday said the Modi government is in complete denial that the economy faces a "grave macro economic challenge" and it has given up on reviving the economy, accelerating growth or creating jobs. Chidambaram said, "It's laundry list of old programmes; even most loyal BJP supporter cannot latch on to any idea in Budget speech."
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi has said there is nothing concrete in the budget as the biggest problem in front of the country is unemployment and the government has not addressed that. "Maybe this was the longest Budget speech in history but it had nothing, it was hollow," Gandhi told media while leaving the Parliament after attending the Budget session in Lok Sabha.
"This is the mindset of the government -- all talk and nothing concrete. The biggest problem our youngsters are facing is unemployment and I didn't see any strategic idea as how they will get jobs," said Rahul Gandhi.
Congress leader Manish Tewari on Saturday said that the Union Budget 2020 can be summed up as grandstanding. "Union Budget 2020-21 can be summed up in ONE WORD AND ONE PHRASE. WORD - GRANDSTANDING. Phrase - MOTHERHOOD AND APPLE PIE," Tewari tweeted after the Budget was presented in the Parliament.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday alleged that step-motherly treatment has been meted out to Delhi again in the Union Budget. Kejriwal took to Twitter to express his disappointment over the Budget for 2020-21, presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday, and asked, "When Delhi doesn't figure in the BJP's priorities, why should people vote for it?"
"Delhi had high expectations from the Budget, but step-motherly treatment has been meted out to it again," he posted on the microblogging site in Hindi. The AAP national convenor also asked that if the BJP was disappointing Delhi before the assembly elections, "will it fulfil its promises after the polls?"
Senior party leader Ahmed Patel said that at a time when India is in the midst of an economic downturn, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's budget speech focuses more on praising the prime minister rather than helping the common citizen. "Longest Budget speech is also the most lacklustre budget ever. After Acche Din, New India, it now appears that the government has also abandoned the target of USD 5 trillion economy," Patel said in a series of tweets.
This budget confirms not only the bankruptcy of the economy but also a bankruptcy of government's ideas, he claimed. "Piecemeal measures, repackaged schemes, jugglery of tax slabs and no real solutions to solve the present economic crisis," Patel said referring to the budget.
Party's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also slammed the budget and posed questions to Sitharaman on Twitter.
Congress leader and senior spokesperson Anand Sharma said that "budget is insipid, lacking in stimulus for growth" and has no clear roadmap for job creation.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday hailed the Union Budget for 2020-21, saying it will revive growth and rejuvenate demand in the economy. "The first budget of the new decade presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman gives an outline of a new and confident India. It is a promising, proactive and progressive budget which will make India healthy and wealthy in coming years," Singh said.
Road Transport and Highways minister Nitin Gadkari expressed happiness over the Centre's announcement that the ambitious infrastructure project of Delhi-Mumbai Expressway will be completed within a span of three years and said that the government will make efforts in the future to raise more money for this project.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Saturday termed the the Union Budget for 2020-21 as "development-oriented" which will spur job creation.
"The Union Budget will help in creation of jobs, it is in the interest of farmers, it will boost continuous development and is a development-oriented budget. For this, I would like to congratulate Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman," Adityanath said. "This Budget will also prove to be a milestone in terms of developing the basic infrastructure of the country, farmers' growth, jobs for youth and betterment of health facilities in the country," he added.