Piyush Goyal goes for a 'Uri' reference in Budget speech; 'how is the josh', asks BJP


From reference to "josh" of Bollywood flick Uri, jeering by opposition members to chants of "Modi, Modi" from the BJP, there were varied reactions in Lok Sabha as Finance Minister Piyush Goyal gave his interim budget speech on Friday.

Goyal announced various populist measures, including direct cash transfer to farmers and income tax exemptions, all of which were welcomed by thumping of desks by the ruling side.

Attired in a grey jacket and black kurta, Goyal also made it a point to explain some of the key announcements, including those related to income tax sops, in Hindi.

Traditionally, finance ministers stick to their written Budget speech.

Goyal paused for almost a minute as the ruling party members continued to cheer and chant "Modi, Modi" and thumped their desks after he announced doubling of income tax exemption limit to Rs 5 lakh from the next fiscal.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior ministers were also seen thumping their desks.

"It was fun watching Uri. There was a lot of josh (energy) in the movie (Uri movie mein jo maza aaya. Jo Josh tha)," Goyal said while mentioning the future agenda.

This prompted many members, including Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to deliver the movie's dialogue "How is the josh".

The finance minister used the word 'josh' twice during the speech.

During the speech, Modi was seen thumping his desk numerous times. After the Budget presentation, Goyal turned towards Modi with folded hands. Soon after, a smiling Modi walked up to Goyal and patted him on his back.

As some opposition members tried to disturb Goyal's speech, the laughter of TMC members—Idris Ali and Kalyan Banerjee—rang out aloud in the House prompting the minister to say it reminded him of the Ram Lila.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi has referred to... probably it reminded of the Ram Lila," Goyal said.

He was apparently referring to Modi's swipe at the then Congress MP Renuka Chowdhary after her loud laughter during his speech in Rajya Sabha last year.

The finance minister, who entered the House around five to seven minutes before the proceedings began, touched the feet of Cabinet colleagues Nitin Gadkari and Uma Bharti, and BJP veteran Shanta Kumar.

Goyal, who is the interim finance minister as Arun Jaitley is in the US for treatment, mentioned him in the beginning of the speech, saying he was "deeply conscious of the absence of Shri Arun Jaitley today".

After finishing the speech, many MPs congratulated Goyal, and as he was walking, he waved at his family members, including wife Seema Goyal, standing in the visitors' gallery.

The family members waved back and one of gave the thumbs up.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi was away from the House for a brief period during the Budget presentation. This prompted some BJP members to remark that 'Rahul Baba bhag gaye (Rahul ran away)'.

The visitors' gallery was almost full and Rajya Sabha members, including Rajeev Chandrashekhar (BJP), Y.S. Chowdary (TDP) and Majeed Memon (NCP), were present there.

Former Union Minister M.J. Akbar and former RBI Deputy Governor Narendra Jadhav, who is also a Rajya Sabha member, were also present.

UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress' chief whip in the House Jyotiraditya Scindia and Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai were not in the House.