Rajasthan Deputy CM Diya Kumari Presents Her First Budget With Focus On Education, Health And Women's Safety

Diya Kumari, 53, broke the two-decade-long trend of former Rajasthan chief ministers presenting the budget every year. Both Ashok Gehlot and Vasundhara Raje kept the finance portfolio to themselves.

Rajasthan Dy CM and finance minister Diya Kumari presents state budget.

With a focus on recruitment, welfare, women's safety, farmers and education, Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Diya Kumari presented her first budget on Thursday. Kumari, 53, also broke a two-decade-long trend of former chief ministers presenting the budget every year. Both Ashok Gehlot and Vasundhara Raje had kept the finance portfolio to themselves during their respective chief ministership but Kumari is the only non-chief ministerial finance minister and she is also heading five other departments.

The highlights of the Bhajan Lal Sharma government’s first Budget, a vote-on-account, include fresh recruitment for 70,000 posts, free education from play schools to university level for low-income groups, Rs 2,000 additional annual payout to farmers under the Centre’s PM-KISAN scheme and a Rs 125 per quintal hike in wheat MSP.

Kumari announced a provision of Rs 2,000 crore for the Rajasthan Agriculture Infra Mission, which covers farm ponds, irrigation pipelines, fencing and vermicompost units. "High-quality seeds of maize, bajra, mustard, moong and moth will be distributed to farmers", said Kumari, while presenting the budget.

Emphasising the timely conduct of recruitment exams, Kumari said, "Yuva Sathi Kendra at divisional headquarters, employment fairs in each division, campus placement and skill development training programmes shall be introduced." A Gopal Credit Card Scheme, under which interest-free short-term loans up to Rs 1 lakh will be given to 5 lakh cowherds with an expenditure of Rs 150 crore and a mandi fee exemption for sugar and jaggery, will also be introduced.

Kumari announced that training related to guide/hospitality will be imparted to 20,000 youth and folk artists in two years under the Mukhyamantri Paryatan Kaushal Vikas Programme.

The budget announcement also has a provision of Rs 1,500 crore as a State Road Fund for the upgradation and construction of roads. Besides this, the budget announcement included 5 lakh solar plants where these families will get free electricity for up to 300 monthly units and 500 electric buses for cities like Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Kota along with inter-state usage. A Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the extension of Jaipur Metro along the Tonk Road, Sitapura, Ambabari and up to Vidhyadhar Nagar, and a hi-tech city near Jaipur, was also announced.

While announcing the creation of Anti-Romeo squads in each district, Kumari held the Congress government responsible for a rise in the number of crimes against women, Kumari said that women are equally important in Rajasthan and their safety is utmost paramount.

The budget also promised developmental works for 20 religious places, including Govind Devji in Jaipur, Mangarh Dham in Banswara and the upgradation of 10 museums and a public gallery in the state archives, Bikaner.

Kumari Accuses Congress Of Mismanagement

In the opening of her budget speech, Kumari accused the previous Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government of mismanagement during its tenure.

"The state has a debt of Rs 5,79,781 crore as per Budget estimates of 2023-24 and that per capita debt increased from Rs 36,800 at the end of 2017-18 to Rs 70,800 in 2023-24. It resulted in regular electricity crises due to mismanagement and corruption and there is a debt of more than Rs 1,39,200 crore on electricity companies, including DISCOMs".

Kumari also indicated the change of the name of Ashok Gehlot's flagship Chiranjeevi Yojana, which assures an insurance cover of Rs 25 lakh by making an announcement in the health sector under a new scheme. "Day Care Package along with In-patient Department will be provided under Mukhyamantri Ayushman Arogya Yojana. Also, 25 Advanced Life Support Ambulances will be provided for life safety in accidents on highways, doorstep delivery of medicines under the Rajiv Gandhi Health Scheme, etc."

She further highlighted that during Gehlot's tenure, the constituencies with BJP MLAs were ignored and the development work stopped there.

Rajasthan's Fiscal Health Better Than Centre: Gehlot

Countering the allegations of the state finance minister, former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that the state’s fiscal health is better than that of the Centre.

Gehlot who was not present in the assembly as he was hospitalised after being diagnosed with Swine Flu, wrote on X, "Finance Minister has levelled an allegation stating that debt of the Rajasthan government increased by Rs 2 lakh crore, but let’s not forget that during the time of the UPA government, the debt of the Government of India was Rs 55 lakh crore till 2014, which increased by Rs 106 lakh crore to Rs 161 lakh crore in 2023".

Gehlot added, "When compared with the Government of India, all the financial indicators of the Rajasthan government have been better. The state GDP of Rajasthan was around Rs 9 lakh crore in 2018, which increased to about Rs 15 lakh crore in 2023". When it comes to the economic growth rate, Rajasthan is number one in north India and number two in the country.

Earlier in the assembly, while countering Kumari's allegations, Leader of Opposition Tika Ram Jully, Congress state president Govind Singh Dotasra along with several other party MLAs stormed the well of the House during the proceedings. After Rajasthan assembly speaker Vasudev Devnani asked them to return to their seats, Jully alleged, "The Budget has come from Delhi".