New Delhi, March 8 (IANS) The government Tuesday faced a lot of flak from the opposition parties over inflation, corruption and illegal money stashed abroad, apart from what they called “fudging” of figures in the budget proposals to “fool” people.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Murli Manohar Joshi, who initiated the debate on the budget in the Lok Sabha, lashed out at Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on his fiscal prudence.
He said the government had no money for non-planned expenditure even as the cost of essential commodities and oil prices were spiralling.
Pointing out that the budget proposed a fiscal deficit of 5.1 percent, down from 5.5 percent this fiscal, Joshi said this would be achieved through sale of 3G spectrum and not due to effective management of expenditure.
“But what would happen next year when you will not have such high revenue,” Joshi asked Mukherjee, who was found smiling.
“The government is only trying to fool the aam aadmi (common man). There is fudging of figures,” he said.
Joshi said the economic model of “the West or the IMF” should not be blindly followed in India and that the country needed an indigenous model to meet its needs.
“Concession to the rich and robbing the poor seems to be your policy,” he charged.
Asking the government to focus on agriculture, rural development, tribals and women, the senior BJP leader said the finance minister’s proposals on customs duty cut for gold and diamond would only benefit the rich and the corporate.
Joshi alleged that the government did nothing for the birth anniversary celebrations of Bengal Chemicals founder P.C. Ray though it has allocated money for 150th anniversary celebrations of Rabindranath Tagore.
“This must be because Ray favoured nationalist thinking and Hindu culture,” he said.
Mukherjee was quick on his feet to note that the government had already given funds to Bengal Chemicals in this regard.
Congress’s Sandeep Dikshit, who started the debate on behalf of the ruling party, tried to counter Joshi’s arguments, noting that the 8.6 percent growth rate was due to fiscal management of the government despite the global economic crisis.
Dismissing Joshi’s charge that 3G spectrum sale had increased the government’s revenue, Dikshit said the higher revenue was also due to efficient tax collections.
Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav, taking potshots at the Congress, said the party that ruled the country for most part of the 63 years since Independence had failed farmers and the poor.
“Why is there a ‘rich India’ and ‘poor India’ in the country after so many years,” he asked.
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad Yadav attacked the government for ignoring Bihar, saying the state has had no special development proposal in the central budget for bringing it into the mainstream.
“The people of Bihar have been contributing foreign remittance. Where do those earnings of the government go,” he asked, wondering why the state had not got an international airport yet.