Tuesday, February 7, 2023
HomeIndiaMost capitalist Budget, inequality rising in India more rapidly than elsewhere: Chidambaram

Most capitalist Budget, inequality rising in India more rapidly than elsewhere: Chidambaram

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New Delhi, Feb 1 (PTI) Congress leader and ex-finance minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday said the Union Budget was the “most capitalist” with nothing for the poor and farmers while sops were being provided to big industrialists turning India into a very “unequal country”.

At a press conference after Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled a Rs 39.45 lakh crore Budget, he said because of the ruling party’s “brute majority” the Lok Sabha pass the Budget but people will reject it.

He claimed the BJP was going to elections, scheduled in five states, not with their performance or with the promises and assurances to the people, but solely “with the agenda of dividing the country and bringing Hindutva back to power”.

People must wake up to the reality of the BJP, Chidambaram said.

The former finance minister said India was becoming one of the “most unequal societies in the world”. Inequality has increased in India far more rapidly than in any other country, he alleged.

“This is the most capitalist budget. There is not a word about the poor, the tax-paying middle class and the agriculturists. I am shocked that they (ruling party) don’t care,” Chidambaram told reporters.

He claimed the cumulative wealth of 142 people in the country has increased from Rs 23 lakh crore to Rs 53 lakh crore in the last two years.

Chidambaram said the total receipt of the government in a year is only Rs 40 lakh crore and feared “very soon the increase in the wealth of these individuals would be greater than the total receipts of the Government of India”.

“This is a very unequal country. The poor have become poorer partly because of the pandemic and also because of incompetent economic management while the rich have become richer.” “After the Budget… we asked ourselves what has it done to address any of these grave challenges. The blunt answer is ‘nothing’,” Chidambaram said.

The Congress leader alleged that by any standard, Tuesday’s budget speech was the “most capitalist speech ever read by a finance minister”.

“The finance minister has mastered the jargon of capitalist economics. Read her speech again, count the number of times she used the words digital, portal, IT-based, paperless, database, ecosystem, global, Aatmanirbhar.

“The word ‘poor’ occurs twice in paragraph six. We thank the finance minister for remembering that there are poor people in this country,” Chidambaram said.

He expressed a “greater” worry from the welfare angle.

Alleging that every key subsidy has been slashed, the former finance minister claimed the total subsidy bill has seen a massive 27 per cent cut.

“This is the unkindest cut in this budget. The finance minister may have forgotten the poor but the poor have long memories,” Chidambaram said.

The next worry is about raising more resources and the finance minister is betting on heavy market borrowing and an increase in corporate tax, personal income tax and GST. But there is not a word about raising more resources from the rich, especially the very, very rich 142 people, he said.

He, however, welcomed the higher promised capital expenditure of Rs 7,50,000 crore in 2022-23 as against the RE of Rs 6,02,711 crore in 2021-22 and additional borrowing of Rs 1,00,000 crore to the states free of interest.

“I was astonished that the Finance Minister was outlining a plan for the next 25 years, which she called the Amrit Kaal!” “The government seems to believe that the present does not need any attention and people living in the present can be asked to wait patiently until the Amrit Kaal dawns. This is nothing but mocking the people of India, especially the poor and the deprived,” the senior Congress leader said.

He said that going by the finance minister’s assumption that the government will get an additional Rs 85,000 crore as corporate taxes in the coming year, it amounts to corporates getting an additional profit of Rs 2.55 lakh crore with an average 25 per cent taxation.

The government behaves and acts as though it is on the right path and has delivered on the issues that matter to the common people, Chidambaram said.

“This is false. This is also bull-headed obduracy. This also reflects the government’s contemptuous disregard of the burdens and sufferings of the people.” Chidambaram said that there was not a word about any cash assistance to the very poor who have been pushed into extreme poverty and suffered immensely in the last two years.

The Budget does not have a word for those who had lost their jobs or about creating jobs for those whose education got halted at the school level, he said.

It also does not say anything about reviving MSMEs that had shut down, distributing more food to combat malnutrition, cutting indirect taxes, especially GST, containing inflation and giving tax relief to the middle class, Chidambaram said.

He also said the government should have addressed the problems of the agriculture sector as inputs costs are going up and farmers are only going into debt.

Hitting out at the BJP, the former minister said, “I believe they are simply going to the election based on dividing the society into Hindus and non-Hindus and capturing the bulk of the Hindu vote.” “It is simply a cold, clever, calculation that religion and Hindutva will propel them back to power… I sincerely hope after this budget, people will wake up to the reality of the BJP.” PTI SKC NSD NSD

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

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