The Union Budget came as a real surprise to the 125 crore people who were ‘testing’ the Modi government. The budget, presented by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, exposes the many U-turns taken by the Narendra Modi Government in terms of its policies and ideologies.
One of the most striking contrasts is the shift from a pro-corporates budget in 2015 to a pro-poor budget in 2016. While India Inc lauded Jaitely for announcing a 5 per cent reduction in corporate tax over four years in 2015, the same India Inc was unhappy with the minister for the inaction on the corporate tax front. FICCI( Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) President Harshvardhan Neotia expressed his dissatisfaction and said, “ Corporate tax reduction was something that we were looking at… going forward, we expect some clarity on how the exemptions will be eased out.”
The budget has given a great push to the agricultural and rural sectors- two of the nine pillars of Jaitley’s budget. And this move has given the critics enough reasons to call it a ‘political budget’. The election results of Bihar and Mission Uttar Pradesh 2017 could be the possible reasons for this policy reversal. The BJP has learnt its lesson- Rural India is a bigger vote bank than a handful of rich corporates.
Another reason that can substantiate the above mentioned statement is the fund allocation for the MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act ) scheme, a brainchild of the UPA government. The Modi government in 2014 had talked about diluting the scheme and this decision drew a lot of flak, especially from opposition parties and celebrated economists. While speaking at a function organised to mark the completion of 10 years of the MNREGA scheme, Jaitley had dismissed all doubts surrounding the fate of the scheme and said that the BJP has transformed the scheme, which was in a pitiable condition during the UPA regime. A highest ever allocation of Rs 38,500 crores for the scheme proves Jaitley’s claims and it could help the BJP win brownie points in the upcoming elections. As a matter of fact, MNREGA was one of the main reasons for the popularity of UPA I regime and its re-election in 2009.
The government’s stand on Aadhar card is another notable U-turn. According to the budget, the Aadhar card will now get a statutory backing. While in opposition, the BJP had called the Aadhar card programme as a “fraud” perpetrated on the people of the country and had promised to review it, if voted to power. The same BJP government, probably after “reviewing” the programme, has now suggested ways to strengthen and popularize the use of Aadhar cards. A programme which was considered as a “dangerous programme to regularize the illegal stay of migrants in the country”, will now be used to identify the subsidy beneficiaries.
Among the many noteworthy things mentioned in the budget, one of the interesting aspects is how life changes from Opposition to Government.
Sources: The Hindu, Zee News, The Times of India