As the government goes all out to wrest power from non-BJP ruled states, some of which are slated to go to polls this year, the Union Budget 2021 also saw a lot of incentives being carved out for voters.
From quoting Rabindranath Tagore: “Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark”, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, clad in a traditional Bengali red and white saree, announced Rs 25,000 crore for road projects in the Mamata Banerjee-ruled West Bengal where assembly elections are scheduled to be held in April-May.
Apart from Bengal, the Centre also trained its eyes on poll-bound Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Assam.
While the budget allocated Rs 1.03 lakh crore for 3,500-km-long national highways in Tamil Nadu, Kerala was granted Rs 65,000 crore for 1,100 km national highways.
Apart from this, flagship and expressway corridors have also been dedicated in the budget on several routes running through Bengal and Tamil Nadu - a freight corridor has been earmarked from Kharagpur to Vijaywada. Money has also been sanctioned and earmarked for Kochi and Chennai metro projects.
Trinamool Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Derek OBrien hit out at the Centre saying the budget was in violation of federal spirit as it had denied funds to states. On roads and highways, he said, “ Bengal is number one in roads. What Bengal did yesterday, the Centre only talks today."
The budget is likely to be followed soon by the announcement of dates for state polls. And the BJP hopes the focus on Tamil Nadu and Bengal would fetch it good dividends