With an eye firmly on the upcoming elections to local bodies, assembly and the Lok Sabha, Maharashtra's Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Devendra Fadnavis presented an unmistakably populist budget for 2023-24 on Thursday in the state assembly.
He tried to capture the imaginations of farmers, youth, women, middle class as well as urban voters in his first budget as finance minister. He left nobody in doubt that he was pushing the BJP's agenda through the budget.
This was his last full budget ahead of the crucial elections to the Lok Sabha next year. 2024 and hence, he used the budget to create confidence amongst his party vote bank.
He said this was indeed a people's budget since most of the 40,000 odd suggestions received from the people were incorporated in the proposals.
₹350 crore for Shivaji's coronation
Fadnavis (52) reached Vidhan Bhavan on Thursday morning and kept his bag containing his ipad with the budget proposals in it at the feet of Chhatrapati Shivaraj Maharash's statue at the entrance to the Vidhan Bhavan. He started his speech with a number of announcements regarding the 350th anniversary of Chhatrpati Shivaji's coronation. He made announcements of a total Rs 350 cr regarding celebration of this 350th coronation year. While presenting a paperless budget, Fadnavis read out of his i-pad, a first in the state assembly. The budget speech and proposals were transmitted online to the laptops given free to the law makers.
Fadnavis terms Maha Budget 'Panchamrut'
Fadnavis, who appeared chastened by the defeat of the BJP in just held assembly poll in its stronghold Kasbapeth in Pune, divided his budget into five major parts, calling them 'Panchamrut'. It was on the line of 'Amrut Kal' being cited by Prime MInister Narendra Modi for India's 75th year of independence. The first part was focused on farmers, named as 'sustainable farming - prosperous farmers'. Announcing a scheme like Pradhanmantri Kisan Samman Yojana, Fadnavis said now the state too will give Rs 6,000 each to 1.15 cr farmers of Maharashtra. to the match the Centre's grant of Rs 6,000. This scheme, first announced by the Modi government, has been given credit for winning votes in rural parts of the country. Fadnavis's announcemenet was thus linked to his government's attempt to win the rural voters in local bodies elections. Elections to 14 zilla parishads and 96 municipal council elections are pending.
Budget for women, tribals, backward classes
Second part of Fadnavis's budget was about appealing to all sections of society including women, tribals and backward classes. He made a number of announcements in this part too by including Modi Awas yojana for 10 lakh other backward class families in the state. Also he announced the Lek Ladki scheme for girls from yellow or orange ration cards holding families. In this, he announced grants from birth till grade first, sixth, eleventh and till the age of 18. Under this second part, Fadnavius tried to cover issues like health, rationing, youth development programs for specific communities as well as unorganised sector of labourers.
In the third part of his speech, Fadnavis tried to touch upon issues of infrastructure development. Announcing the mega highway of 'Maharashtra Shaktipith Marg' covering 11 districts from Vidarbha to Konkan, Fadnavis also talked about the ongoing metro rail and beautification projects in Mumbai. He also focused on developing state transport bus depots, increasing capacity of Shirdi airport terminal and water transport project for the benefit of Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
Youth and environment also in focus
The fourth part focussed on youth development and the fifth part was about environment friendly development. In his almost one and half hour long speech, the dy CM also made announcements regarding memorials of various saints and holy places like Pandharpur, Mahur, Aundha Nagnath, Tulzapur and Koohapur et al.
Thackerays face taunts during Budget speech
During the budget, members from treasury benches chanted slogans in support of Fadnavis as well as the BJP and the Shiv Sena led by CM Eknath Shinde. They were also seen taunting MLAs of the Uddhav Thackeray camp, including Aaditya Thackeray. On the other hand, opposition members listened to the speech quietly avoiding all the provocation from ruling coalition members.
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