Opposition Slams Govt for Anti-People Union Budget
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The government today came under sharp attack from Opposition which rubbished the Union Budget 2013-14 as "anti-people and directionless" and asked it to have a rethink on ways to bring the economy back on track.

Initiating the debate on the Union Budget in Lok Sabha, Murli Manohar Joshi (BJP) said while government is concentrating on increasing the GDP considering it as the sole indicator of development, it was ignoring other related issues like jobs, health care, education and security for the people.

"New thinking is required. Old solutions would not help. The entire system will have to be reframed...You may not get the opportunity to do that. Some person sitting this side may get the chance," he said.

Terming GDP as a jugglery of statistics, he said Finance Minister P Chidambaram's statement on Union Budget was "devoid" of values. "It was a hollow statement...It can be made by a chartered accountant...Rise from the role of CA and become a Finance Minister," he said.

Referring to the Budget speech of Chidambaram, Joshi said the Finance Minister had pointed out that some states were developing leaving behind women, tribals and minorities.

The BJP leader also called for a "national consensus" on economic objectives of the country and said there was need to rise above political lines to achieve the objective.

In an oblique reference to CAG, Joshi said the role of the auditor is very important and it should not be decried.

He also took a jibe at the government for the direct benefit transfer scheme saying the aim was to get votes in return for cash.

Joshi said the farm loan waiver scheme was used as a "political tool" and wherever it was implemented, Congress gained seats.

He was also critical of the government for reducing funds for road projects, saying development of infrastructure should not be limited to airports and industries.

Countering the opposition charges, Sanjay Nirupam (Cong) said the government has hiked allocation for all flagship schemes and "no one has been left disappointed...The budget was balanced despite the situation being so challenging."

He also recalled the achievements of the UPA government saying it has performed better than NDA on various social sector parameters. The farm sector credit, he said, had gone up several times though much more was needed to be done to ameliorate the plight of farmers.

Nirupam, however, urged Chidambaram to reduce the Commodity Transaction Tax (CTT) and take steps to bring in more retail investors to stock markets.

Sharad Yadav (JD-U) underlined the need for giving greater emphasis on providing irrigation facilities in different parts of the country.

He suggested that government should set up plants to use natural resources instead of exporting it to other countries. These initiatives, he said, would help in creating jobs and generating resources for development schemes.

Trinamool Congress member Kalyan Banerjee regretted that Chidambaram did nothing to provide relief to West Bengal which is reeling under the impact of the huge debt burden.

Describing some of the budget initiatives as "fraud on Constitution...Fraud on federalism", he said, Chidambaram should have raised the tax rate on super rich instead of imposing a 10 per cent surcharge on persons with annual taxable income of over Rs 1 crore.

The amount collected as surcharge, Banerjee said, would go into Centre's kitty and would not be shared with states.

Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo (BJD) regretted that Chidambaram had missed the opportunity to focus on issues concerning growth, foreign investment and exports.

P Karunakaran (CPI-M) dared the government to "touch" the corrupt politicians and those who parked their money abroad.

He criticised the Government for not allocating enough money for social sector ministries like health and education.

Anandrao Adsul (Shiv Sena) also attacked the Government on the issue of "blackmoney and massive corruption" that took place during the UPA regime.

He said if the government is able to retrieve the money being allegedly swindled by the politicians involved in various scams, India will be the richest country in the world.

Ajay Kumar (JVMP) demanded reform in bureaucracy and criticised the government for not allocating enough money for key sector like animal husbandry.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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