Cong slams budget as ‘insipid’, says main issue of unemployment not addressed
New Delhi, Feb 01: Slamming the Union budget as “insipid” and lacking in stimulus for growth, the Congress on Saturday said it does not address the main issue of unemployment and describes the mindset of the government which is “all talk and nothing happening”.
The opposition party said the budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman comprises piecemeal measures, repackaged schemes, jugglery of tax slabs, and has no real solutions to solve the economic crisis.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said there was no strategic idea or anything concrete in the Union Budget and it described the “hollow” approach of the government that was “all talk”.
Talking to reporters outside Parliament soon after the presentation of the budget, he said it does not address the main issue of unemployment confronting the youth of the country.
“I did not see any concrete, strategic idea that could help our youngsters get jobs. There were redundant things in the budget and I did not see any central idea,” he said.
“It describes the government quite well. There is a lot of repetition, a lot of rambling and nothing concrete. It describes the mindset of the government, all talk, all talk, all talk, and nothing happening,” he said.
Slamming the Budget, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram 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.
There is nothing in the Budget that leads one to believe that growth will revive in 2020-21 and the claim of 6 to 6.5 per cent growth next year is “astonishing and even irresponsible”, the former finance minister said at a press conference.
He said the government “does not believe” in reforms and certainly not in structural reforms as Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has outrightly rejected every reform idea in the Economic Survey.
“Did the FM read the Economic Survey? Was the chief economic adviser privy to the content of the Budget speech? I think the answer to both questions is in the negative,” Chidambaram said.
There were multiple themes, segments and programmes in the Budget speech, leaving the listener dazed and confused, he claimed.
“It was a laundry list of old (that is current) programmes. I am pretty certain that even the most loyal BJP MP or supporter cannot latch on to any idea or statement in the Budget speech and take it to the people,” Chidambaram said.
If the ongoing programmes have failed the people, how can throwing more money into the ongoing programmes change anything, he asked.
“The government has given up on reviving the economy or accelerating the growth rate or promoting private investment or increasing efficiency or creating jobs or winning a greater share of world trade,” he said.
The Indian economy is demand-constrained and investment-starved, and the finance minister has not acknowledged these two challenges, he said.
“You did not ask for such a budget and you did not deserve such a budget for voting the BJP to power. But you have to live with it until the government is forced to revisit it, as it did in 2019,” Chidambaram said.
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.
“After squeezing out LIC of profitability, the government now wants to sell it to rescue itself,” he claimed.
Patel also said that after “harassing” taxpayers for last six years, the government seems to have realised its disastrous impact on the economy.
“We hope this will not be mere lip service but will be implemented in letter and spirit,” he said.
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.
Party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also slammed the budget and posed questions to Sitharaman on Twitter.
He alleged that the government’s five trillion economy assertion had turned out to be a ‘jumla’ and there was no mention of the word employment in the budget.
“Will create five new smart cities? No mention of the 100 smart cities!” Surjewala said.
How did the number of those living below the poverty line increase, he asked.
The Congress, on its official Twitter handle, also said that core sector growth stood at 1.3 per cent in December, despite a significant fall from the same time last year, and budget has failed to lay out a roadmap on how the government plans to address this serious issue.