Terming the Union Budget as "directionless", the Congress on Monday said it was a case of "wrong diagnosis and prescription", and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman could have been "brave" by extending help to the poor, but chose to be "timid".
The opposition party also said that Sitharaman's speech was oblivious to the declining GDP and alleged that the budget was without a roadmap for accelerating growth and revival of consumer demand.
"The FM could have been brave but chose to be timid. The nation needed a bold budget and more direct transfers to the weaker sections to revive demand, restart job creation," senior Congress leader and Deputy leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma tweeted. The finance minister could have been bold and extended help to the poor and the working class, but she chose to be timid and continued with the government's rhetoric, Sharma said.
He further added that 'One Nation, One Ration Card' and increased spending on public health were two bright spots in an otherwise "directionless" budget which will be forgotten in a few weeks. Terming the budget "disappointing" , Congress' deputy leader in Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi alleged that the BJP has put India into insolvency and bankruptcy and is busy selling public-owned assets to 12-15 major companies.
"Rest of India which is struggling with rising costs, unemployment and corruption have to reconcile with a meaningless 'Aatmanirbhar' slogan," he alleged. Finance Minister Sitharaman presented the budget for 2021-22 in Lok Sabha with a focus on driving economic recovery through higher spending on sectors such as healthcare and infrastructure. She read out the budget speech in the Lok Sabha from a tablet on Monday instead of a conventional paper document as the first paperless budget since independence was presented by the government due to the COVID situation.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari also alleged that the budget was a "national monetisation plan — short hand for National Sell out" and there was "no central focus in Budget". "FM's Talkthorn (sic) oblivious that growth rate of GDP is in a record 37th month decline.Worst Crisis since 1991. Except for a National Monetisation Plan – short hand for National Sell out no Central Focus in Budget. Bottom line-Will not grow economy but sell the family silver," he tweeted.
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor took a dig at the Centre over the budget, saying "this BJP government reminds me of the garage mechanic who told his client, 'I couldn't fix your brakes, so I made your horn louder'." Another Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said the budget has left the middle class "bruised and wounded" by not changing tax slabs, not increasing deductions, not making new deduction slots like home loans, not bringing fuel under GST, not sharing Rs 19 Lakh crore gain from fuel taxes, not reducing GST rates. "After promising a century, FM is out hit wicket at Zero!! Instead of calling it as 'budget of the century' it will be remembered as 'blunder of the century' by BJP Government," he tweeted.
"Budget case of 'wrong diagnosis and wrong prescription' by BJP government which instead of healing, reforming and rejuvenating has chosen to adopt damaging, disappointing and destroying approach to push the economy further into vortex of recession," he said in a series of tweets.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleged that the Narendra Modi government plans to handover India's assets to crony capitalists. The government on Monday budgeted Rs 1.75 lakh crore from stake sale in public sector companies and financial institutions, including two PSU banks and an insurance company, in the next fiscal.
"Forget putting cash in the hands of people, Modi government plans to handover India's assets to his crony capitalist friends," he said after the presentation of the Union Budget. Prior to the presentation of the budget, he said it should provide support to small and medium enterprises, farmers and workers, and generate employment. Gandhi also demanded an increase in healthcare budget and hike in defence expenditure to safeguard the country's borders.
"Budget 2021 must: Support MSMEs, farmers and workers to generate employment. Increase healthcare expenditure to save lives. Increase defence expenditure to safeguard borders," he said on Twitter. Unveiling the PSE policy in Budget 2021-22, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said barring four strategic areas, public sector companies in other sectors will be divested. The policy would give a clear roadmap for disinvestment in strategic and non-strategic sectors.
Meanwhile, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati said that crores of poor people, farmers and working class of the country are tired of attractive promises and hollow claims. She said it would be better if the government implemented its stated policies on the ground.
"Will the budget of the Central Government presented in Parliament today be able to deal with poverty, unemployment and inflation, etc?. On this basis, the activities of the government and this Budget will be judged," Mayawati said in a tweet in Hindi. In a related tweet, she said, "Crores of poor, farmers and working people of the country are tired of many kinds of attractive promises, hollow claims and assurances by the Central and state governments and their lives are constantly plagued."
The Samajwadi Party slamming the Union Budget said it will increase the problems of farmers and common man. The party further said that the Modi government has "lost its credibility" and accused the BJP of working for corporates.
"Its (BJP's) every move is aimed at snatching away everything from the common man and giving it to the corporate groups. Its budget is also directly and indirectly dedicated to corporate groups," Leader of Opposition in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly and senior SP leader, Ram Govind Chowdhury, alleged in a statement here. "This budget will add to the problems of farmers and common man," Chowdhury added. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday proposed more than doubling of healthcare spending while imposing a new agri cess on certain imported goods and raising customs duty on items ranging from cotton to electronics in a bid to pull the economy out of the trough.