Rajasthan's First Woman Finance Minister Diya Kumari Unveils Inclusive Budget Focused On Election Promises

Rajasthan's First Woman Finance Minister Diya Kumari Unveils Inclusive Budget Focused On Election Promises

While Vasundhara Raje, as a woman, had presented the budget 10 times before Diya Kumari, she did so while holding the position of chief minister.

Manish GodhaUpdated: Thursday, February 08, 2024, 08:05 PM IST
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DCM Diya Kumari | File

In the first budget of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Rajasthan, the state's first woman finance minister Diya Kumari focused on fulfilling the promises made in the party's assembly election manifesto. During her inaugural budget speech, Diya Kumari announced initiatives such as free education from KG to PG for children from economically disadvantaged families, savings bonds of Rs 1 lakh for the birth of girls, 70,000 new government recruitment for youth, and a fixed calendar for government recruitment, all of which were part of the party's manifesto.

Due to the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, a full budget was not feasible. Consequently, the Rajasthan government presented a Vote on Account, seeking legislative assembly clearance for a four-month expenditure. The first comprehensive budget of the Rajasthan government is expected to be presented in June or July after the Lok Sabha elections.

As Diya Kumari presented the Vote on Account as an interim budget, incorporating election promises to convey a message of a government committed to timely fulfillment of its pledges.

This marks a historic moment in Rajasthan, with Diya Kumari becoming the state's first woman Finance Minister. While Vasundhara Raje, as a woman, had presented the budget 10 times before Diya Kumari, she did so while holding the position of chief minister.

The budget aims to cater to all sections of society, with a distinct focus on women and youth. Diya Kumari announced initiatives such as a women's help desk in every police station, self-defense training, Ladli Suraksha Yojana, a ₹100,000 savings bond for the birth of a girl child, and the Central Government's Lakhpati Didi scheme. Social security pensions for the elderly and widows have been increased by Rs 150 per month.

To appeal to young voters, the budget includes announcements such as 70,000 government jobs, improvements in the recruitment calendar of RPSC and Staff Selection Board, preparation of 50 youth for the Olympic Games, and the opening of a Center for Excellence in Sports in Jaipur.

The Chiranjeevi Yojana, previously implemented for health insurance during the Congress government, has been renamed as Mukhyamantri Ayushman Arogya Yojana, with no changes in the scheme's provisions.

The budget reflects a complete alignment with the party's ideology, as seen in the announcement of a bill to ensure the permanent pension of political prisoners of the 1975 Emergency. Additionally, a provision of Rs 300 crore has been allocated for the beautification and development of 20 temples.

While there are no major announcements for infrastructure development in the interim budget, significant mentions include the development of a hi-tech city near Jaipur and the preparation of the DPR for the second route of the Jaipur Metro.

However, the budget did not provide relief in petrol and diesel prices, despite expectations in Rajasthan where VAT rates are the highest. Prime Minister Modi, during his election campaign, had promised a review of fuel prices, but no such announcement was made in the budget speech.

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