‘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’
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.