Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday termed the Union Budget ”disappointing” and said while it provides additional funds for an irrigation scheme in Karnataka, it has not given national status to the East Rajasthan Canal Project.
He claimed the Budget allocated Rs 5,300 crore to the Upper Bhadra Irrigation Project in Karnataka keeping the coming elections in mind and accused the Centre of being ”step-motherly” towards his own state.
BJP-run Karnataka is likely to go to the polls in April-May while elections in Rajasthan are expected in December.
”If the Union Budget is talked about in the context of Rajasthan, then it was very disappointing,” Gehlot said. ”The people of the state are disappointed because the central government did not accept our just demand of giving national status to the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project, an important project related to the development of Rajasthan,” Gehlot said.
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The veteran Congress leader added that the people of Rajasthan would give a befitting reply to the ”step-motherly treatment” at the appropriate time.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget for 2023-24 on Wednesday.
Govind Singh Dotasra, the Congress’ Rajasthan unit chief, also called the Budget ”disappointing” and said it provided no relief to the common people.
The BJP, on the other hand, welcomed the Budget and described it as all-inclusive and beneficial for all. Expressing further displeasure at the Budget, Gehlot said reducing the provision for schemes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act proves it is anti-poor, landless farmers and common people.
”In the budget, only headline-making ‘jumlas’ have been used in the media but in schemes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, which proved to be a lifeline for poor people in the ‘corona’ period, the Budget provision for 2023-24 by the Centre is 33 per cent (approximately Rs 30,000 crore).” This, he said, proves the Budget is anti-poor, landless farmers and common people.
Many fake announcements related to agriculture and farmers’ welfare have been made in the Budget but the allocation to the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare is about 6 per cent (about Rs 7,500 crore) lower than last year, Gehlot alleged. ”…there has been a significant reduction of 15 per cent (approximately Rs 23,000 crore) in urea subsidy as compared to last year,” he said.
Gehlot also accused the Centre of neglecting important areas such as education, health, social justice and women and child development.
”The whole country has suffered from inflation for the past years — prices of flour, pulses, oil, soap etc, which are used by the common man on a daily basis, have increased a lot. ”In the absence of any policy statement regarding reducing inflation, the life of the common man will become even more difficult.” In a similar vein, Dotasra said, ”The Budget is very disappointing and Rajasthan has got nothing. There is no exemption for petrol, diesel and gas cylinders. Neither inflation will come down nor unemployment will go away.” He claimed that not giving national project status to the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project was a betrayal of the state’s people.
Calling the Budget a complete failure, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas said, ”People were expecting that there would be relief in petrol and diesel prices because the prices of crude oil have fallen.” The BJP, however, lauded the Budget with former chief minister Vasundhara Raje calling it a ”historic step towards inclusive development” while the party’s Rajasthan unit chief Satish Poonia said initiatives had been taken to fulfil the middle and deprived classes’ expectations.
Raje said, ”This Budget is ‘Sarvajan Hitaya, Sarvajan Sukhay (for welfare of all, for happiness of all)’ -– is a historic step for the country towards inclusive development.” While capital expenditure has been increased by 33 per cent to transform India’s economy into the third largest in the world, welfare expenditure has also gone up, she said in a statement. This Budget is completely dedicated to the welfare of all sections (of people), she added.
Poonia said, ”This Budget is all-inclusive. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have taken a big and positive initiative to fulfil the expectations of the middle and deprived classes.”