Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman started her Budget 2021 speech with a poem. In what was seen as yet another nod to the upcoming elections in West Bengal, Sitharaman symbolically started this year's Budget by quoting Nobel laureate and Bengali icon Rabindranath Tagore to describe India's battle with the coronavirus pandemic.
Quoting Tagore, one of the most prominent poets from West Bengal, Sitharaman said, "Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark", Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore had opined! This moment in history is the dawn of a new era, where India is well-poised to be the land of promise and hope".
Invoking Tagore was not the government's only nod to Bengal in the ninth budget under the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government. Of the many fronts on which the Bengal assembly elections are being fought, culture is right on top.
With an eye on winning the Assembly polls in the state this year, Sitharaman wore a white saree with a red border (laal paar) saree that is traditionally worn by women in Bengal on auspicious occasions.
Sitharaman's nod to Tagore also comes a day after the Trinamool Congress government in Bengal slammed BJP for allegedly incorrectly singing the national anthem - Jana Gana Mana - written by Rabindranath Tagore during one of its high-decibel rallies in Howrah on Sunday.
The clever nod was not missed by netizens, many of whom claimed they were not surprised at the comment. Some such as author Suhel Seth had even predicted it would happen.
As the election are near in WB that is why she quoted him. Lol — Saqib Manzoor (@Saqib__7) February 1, 2021
Sir, you were bang on target...Ms. Sitharaman quoted Tagore's poem :) — Jhalak DasRoy (@jdroy1) February 1, 2021
FM Sitharaman evokes Rabindranath Tagore during the budget speech. Eye on the WB polls? FM does seem to be a fan of poetry, though. Last year she had quoted Tamil poetry. #BudgetWithET @EconomicTimes — Anjali Venugopalan @ET (@anjalivenu) February 1, 2021
Why some, I feel most of not all Sitharaman just quoted Rabindranath Tagore - No Bengal elections on mind of this government — Peterson J (@Peterson_jil) February 1, 2021
As India emerges from the Covid-19 crisis, the budget, economists and experts feel, will be the starting point for picking up the pieces after the economic destruction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Budget 2021 is widely expected to focus on boosting spending on job creation and rural development, generous allocations for development schemes, putting more money in the hands of the average taxpayer, and easing rules to attract foreign investments.
In yet another departure from last year, Sitharaman today gave a miss to the traditional ‘bahi khata’ as she opted for a tab for the paperless budget of 2021.