Modi is an incremental reformer, Budget-2019 belied people’s expectations, says P Chidambaram

Congress leader and Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram labeled the first Budget of the Modi government-2.0 as an “insipid Budget” claiming that it belied the people’s expectations

Congress leaders Randeep Singh Surjewal and P Chidambaram (Vipin)
Congress leaders Randeep Singh Surjewal and P Chidambaram (Vipin)

NH Political Bureau

Calling Prime Minister Modi “an incremental reformer...who thinks only he can deliver basic goods and services to the people” former Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, dubbed the first Budget of the Modi government-2.0 as an “insipid Budget” that belied the people’s expectations.

Addressing a press conference at the Congress headquarters in Delhi on Friday, Chidambaram hit out at the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also and said that her Budget speech was an “unusually opaque exercise”.

Criticising Sitharaman who presented her maiden budget as the finance minister, Chidambaram asked “Has there ever been a budget speech that does not disclose the total revenue, the total expenditure, the fiscal deficit, the revenue deficit?”

Expressing his shock over the departure from the usual practice while preparing the Budget, Chidambaram asked : “Has there been a budget speech that does not disclose the allocation to important programmes like MGNREGA, Mid-day meal scheme, Healthcare etc and to vulnerable sections like SC, ST, Minorities, Women etc? ”

When asked about the contradictions between the Economic Survey that envisaged structural reforms and the budget that is silent about the economic reforms, Chidambaram said emphatically that it seems those who think and those who act are tilted against each other in the Modi government.

“We cannot recall Part A of the Budget speech that was so totally bereft of any reform, not to speak of structural reforms. The most disappointed person must be the Chief Economic Adviser. The CEA had set the goal for India to become a USD 5 trillion economy and premised his entire argument on boosting private investment. There was no indication in the budget speech of any measures to attract greater private investment,” said Chidambaram.

Chidambaram also said that Modi and his government is working against the cooperative federalism, adding “The Modi government treats India as one big state government that has taken upon itself the responsibility to do things that are the right and dusty of state governments. This is not cooperative federalism; it is an unusual partnership imposed by the Centre upon state governments.”

Blaming Modi government for not “listening to the voices of ordinary citizens or knowledgeable economists” senior Congress leader said that the Budget-2019 has belied the modest expectations raised by the Economic Survey also apart from belying people’s expectations.

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