‘The State that Sends Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi to the Lok Sabha is Dis­ap­pointed’

‘I had sug­gested to the PM to post­pone the Bud­get till the polls were over so that UP could ben­e­fit from the Bud­get. It was not heeded’

The Economic Times - - Front Page - AKHILESH YADAV

My deep­est con­do­lences on the demise of par­lia­men­tar­ian E Ahamed. The gov­ern­ment could have been more con­sid­er­ate by post­pon­ing the Bud­get by a day.

This Bud­get has been pre­sented in the shadow of an un­prece­dented cri­sis cre­ated by de­mon­eti­sa­tion that was forced by the prime min­is­ter on the cit­i­zens. Every­one, in­clud­ing the gov­ern­ment it­self in its Eco­nomic Sur­vey, agrees that it has re­sulted in a de­cline of GDP growth, a com­plete dis­rup­tion of the cash-based econ­omy, loss of em­ploy­ment and liveli­hood of farm­ers, labour­ers, small traders, MSMEs and mis­ery to the com­mon man. The prom­ise of un­earthing black money van­ished as the goal­posts were shifted to en­able a cash­less econ­omy.

Peo­ple ex­pected the Bud­get to have mea­sures to ame­lio­rate their suf­fer­ings that were im­posed on them in the first place. Let alone a Uni­ver­sal Ba­sic In­come, at least some scheme of money trans­fer for the poor­est was ex­pected. How­ever, there has been no sig­nif­i­cant mea­sure to ad­dress the dis­tress of farm­ers, labour­ers, small traders and busi­ness- es. The prom­ise of em­ploy­ment to the youth that was made by this gov­ern­ment be­fore be­ing elected re­mains un­ful­filled, with no sig­nif­i­cant ac­tion in this direction. Sim­i­larly, the gov­ern­ment prom­ises to move to­wards dig­i­tal trans­ac­tions. But with­out smart­phones, how will this ben­e­fit the poor in whose name schemes are be­ing rolled out?

This gov­ern­ment’s fourth Bud­get was ex­pected to bring bold ac­tion to im­prove de­mand and put an im­pe­tus on growth to, in turn, pro­vide jobs. But it lacks the bold vi­sion re­quired. It is doubt­ful that even if GoI had an­nounced any­thing sig­nif­i­cant, peo­ple would have be­lieved it, as the big­gest cri­sis fac­ing this gov­ern­ment is of cred­i­bil­ity.

Once again, this is a Bud­get full of jar­gon and win­dow-dress­ing but with­out ad­e­quate bud­getary pro­vi­sions and a clear road map. For ex­am­ple, the FM has talked about dou­bling the in­come of farm­ers in the next five years. But the gov­ern­ment is yet to ex­plain how the in­come of farm­ers has in­creased in the last three years. It won’t be able to name a sin­gle big project that it has flagged off in Ut­tar Pradesh in the last three years. Cou­pled with that, the reck­less ad­ven­tur­ism of the gov­ern­ment has put the en­tire econ­omy in a zone of un­cer­tainty and in­sta­bil­ity. No­body knows when the next an­nounce­ment will be made, Bud­get or no Bud­get.

The Bud­get does lit­tle jus­tice to the mi­nori­ties and women. So much for ‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas!’

I am not crit­i­cis­ing for the sake of it. I wel­come the de­ci­sion of tax re­lief to the mid­dle class and to the MSMEs along with the pro­vi­sion of a rail­way se­cu­rity fund.

As the chief min­is­ter of UP, I think it is deeply ironic that the state that sends the prime min­is­ter, de­fence min­is­ter, home min­is­ter and 73 MPs of the rul­ing NDA to the Lok Sabha, has once again been dis­ap­pointed by the Union Bud­get. This was, how­ever, ex­pected this year, since the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion had al­ready asked GoI on Jan­uary 23 to not make spe­cific an­nounce­ments for states go­ing to elec­tion to, quite rightly, pro­vide a level-play­ing field at the polls.

I had written to the PM stat­ing that it would be un­fair to the peo­ple of UP if the Bud­get doesn’t pro­vide any­thing to the state. So, I had sug­gested that the Bud­get be post­poned till the polls were over — as it had been in 2012, in sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances. That sug­ges­tion was not heeded, and we have Gu­jarat and Jhark­hand get­ting All In­dia In­sti­tutes of Med­i­cal Sci­ences, while UP gets noth­ing.

Even in the ear­lier three Budgets, UP has been ne­glected. Last year, I had written to fi­nance min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley and rail­way min­is­ter Suresh Prabhu, ask­ing for spe­cific and doable pro­pos­als to be in­cluded in the Union and rail­way budgets re­spec­tively. I had asked for re­lief of farm­ers, a Pur­van­chal Ex­press­way, funds for Bun­delk­hand and Pur­van­chal, an in­ter­na­tional air­port in west­ern UP, metro rail in Kan­pur and Varanasi, a third Kan­pur-Al­la­habad rail­way line, rail­way over­bridges to de­con­gest large cities, etc. But nei­ther min­is­ter paid at­ten­tion. So much for co­op­er­a­tive fed­er­al­ism.

This year, too, it has been a dis­ap­point­ing Bud­get that lacks cred­i­bil­ity for the na­tion — and for Ut­tar Pradesh.

Land ahoy?

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