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Budget 2018-19: Govt calls Budget pro-farmer, pro-poor, Opposition says 'big letdown'     February 2, 2018

The Union Budget 2018 was a Budget focused on the country's growth prospectus but, as expected earlier, was stressed on addressing agrarian crisis, including infrastructure development, diversification, and pro-poor measures.

Experts suggest this was certainly not an election Budget but a budget that seems to be "taking from rich but giving to poor", and the one that's all about rural, women, and social empowerment. Therefore, critics are also calling it a populist Budget for the farm economy.

Lauding the Budget, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the New India Budget strengthens the hopes and aspirations of over 125 crore Indians, belonging to every section of the society. "The New India Budget is a farmer-friendly, common citizen friendly, business environment friendly and development friendly. It goes beyond 'Ease of Doing Business' and focuses on 'Ease of Living."

He said to further 'Ease of Living' and to give a boost to development, the Budget accords utmost importance to the Next-Gen Infrastructure.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that while on the expenditure and the prioritisation, "we looked at areas that required most acknowledgement, and agriculture and rural areas came foremost" to our mind. "If we could help the rural economy grow, it's a good thing."

"Our second priority was to uplift those who are economically weak. The government has always supported weaker sections of society. The Ujjwala boost and the mega health scheme are the biggest example of this."

BJP chief Amit Shah called it a pro-farmer budget. "This budget gives new wings to the aspirations of the poor, farmers and the middle class. The New India Budget will truly empower all sections of the society to attain prosperity."

However, terming the Union Budget 2018-19 a "defeatist" Budget and a "big letdown", the Congress party said the government has "thrown in the towel" and conceded that it had failed to address key issues in the economy.

"It is a defeatist budget. I think they have thrown in the towel. It is a budget of a government which has conceded that it has failed to address key issues in the economy... Unfortunately, the budget proposals are a big letdown," senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, adding that the government's budgetary promise of providing insurance coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh to over 10 crore poor families was nothing but a "big jumla".

Congress President Rahul Gandhi said the government's failure would hurt it in a year's time when the country goes to polls. "Four years gone; still promising farmers a fair price. Four years gone; fancy schemes, with no matching budgets. Four years gone; no jobs for our youth. Thankfully, only one more year to go," Rahul posted on his Twitter account.

AAP chief and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal picked up the 'middle class' issue and said there's nothing for them. "There is nothing for the middle class and traders in this Budget. Completely ignored."

Unlike popular opinion that this year's Budget was inclined towards farmers, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said it did not have any mention of farm debt waiver. "It also failed to implement the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission."


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