STATE OF THE ECONOMY
With unemployment looming large and the economy listing a bit precariously, the Narendra Modi government’s pre-election budget was always likely to be populist. The BJP is suddenly fighting for political salience, and the Congress with its competitive carrot-dangling—in the shape of farm loan waivers and a Minimum Income Guarantee in states it has recently won—has stolen a march on the saffron party. At the time of going to press, it looked like the BJP’s counter-offer would be a cocktail of direct benefit transfer to landed farmers and minimum income guarantees to the landless poor. Maybe zerointerest loans for farmers and some concessions to the salaried through tweaks in income tax slabs. SMEs could be in for some tax concessions and possibly interest subvention. The government will also hope that it will pay to please.
*BE: Budget estimates