Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday called his state budget a “model” for others to follow and offered to send a copy to the Centre, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi poked fun over a goof-up during his Budget presentation.
At a rally in Rajasthan’s Dausa on Sunday, Modi had picked on a blunder at the Rajasthan Budget presentation Friday, when Gehlot mistakenly read portions of the last year’s budget in the assembly. The PM taunted that the Congress lacks vision and its announcements remain just on paper.
Gehlot said he rectified his mistake within “34 seconds”, and claimed that the BJP is rattled by his government’s performance in the Congress-run state that goes to the polls this year-end.
“I can send the copy of the Budget to the prime minister and he can send it to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. They will realise that our budget is a model budget,” the Rajasthan CM told PTI.
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“The budget we presented in Rajasthan can become a model budget for the country. We have taken care of all sections, all families. I can claim that such a budget is rare,” he added.
During the interview, the chief minister also played down divisions within the Congress in Rajasthan, where he and his former deputy Sachin Pilot have been at loggerheads. Pilot had led a rebellion in 2020 for change of leadership in the state.
Reacting to Modi’s charge at the Dausa rally that the Congress did not carry out infrastructure development in border areas fearing that the enemy might use the new roads to advance into Indian territory, the CM accused the prime minister of ignoring the work done in the past.
“He talks like this in Parliament as well. He earlier talked about a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ (Congress-free India). He doesn’t see the work done for the progress and development of the state by the Congress governments after Independence,” Gehlot said.
The CM claimed that the BJP in Rajasthan is disturbed due to the performance of the state government in health, education, social security and infrastructure development. So the BJP is “exaggerating” issues, he added.
“I believe that the mood of the people this time is to repeat the (Congress) government,” he said.
“We will go to the public after the Budget session, and will talk about the performance of our government,” he said.
He was asked about the series of public meetings last month by Sachin Pilot that some saw as an attempt by the younger politician to promote himself. Gehlot replied if every leader goes out in the field, it only helps the party.
He said the party’s performance and policies should be made aware to the people. “We all will go to the polls together,” he said.
Gehlot downplayed the division in Rajasthan Congress. Instead, he claimed that it is the BJP that faces that problem. “There is no other state in the country where the BJP has such big rifts.” He expressed confidence of retaining power in the assembly elections, banking on the work done by his government in the last four years.
The CM called the state Budget an example of “good governance”, which he said included coronavirus management and implementation of welfare schemes.
The Budget included a series of benefits for the poor. Gehlot said that when the BJP governments make such announcements they are not ‘revdis’, or sops, but it is called that when his government does this.
“We have tried to give big relief to the common man from inflation. The time has come when governments should think about giving social security to people,” he said, reiterating the demand that the Centre should bring a law for it.