Former finance minister P. Chidambaram on Monday said the Narendra Modi government’s “political” budget was not farmer friendly because it did not talk about crucial agriculture pricing.
“The crucial point in agriculture is the price. Last year, I think farmers were cheated. In many cases, there was a very poor increase in MSP (Minimum Support Price). In some cases, there was zero increase in MSP,” Chidambaram told reporters.
“Immediately, it is the price signal that will enthuse farmers. Farmers are not getting fair and remunerative prices,” the senior Congress leader said.
Chidambaram denied that the budget by any means was pro-poor.
“Pro-poor and all are catch-all phrases. I want to know who is happy. Tax payers? Market? The middle class? I don’t think so.”
He criticised Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for “no new idea” in the government’s budget and alleged that the government has been dragging its feet on the crucial but stalled “Goods and Services Tax” (GST) legislation.
“GST has only been delayed because the government is unwilling to step away from its stubborn position,” Chidambaram said.
Asked if he saw the budget political in its essence, the Congress leader said the government passed two “forgettable budgets earlier".
“Clearly the (new) budget was expected to be political and I am not surprised.”
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said "there is nothing in the budget for the farmers who are committing suicid."
"Farmers are in debt. The loans of rich industrialists have been waived off but not of the farmers. There is nothing for treatment of farmers in the budget," Kejriwal said in a tweet.
Merely opening up the stores of generic medicines would not work, Kejriwal said. Dispensaries should be set up in every village for free treatment.
He added that the middle class was also cheated in the budget.
"There is nothing for the middle class in this budget. Modi government cheated the middle class which votes for them," he said in a series of tweets.
"BJP vowed to bring back black money through enforcement, not through amnesty schemes. This is what (P) Chidambaram also did. What is the difference?" he asked on his tweeter handle.