L.K. Advani, BJP: The UPA lost Bihar on the issue of Bijli Sadak Pani (BSP). The Congress has lost Punjab and Uttarakhand on the issue of Dal-Sabzi-Pyaz (DSP). There was a news item this morning reporting that the Left allies had cautioned the Congress 'You have lost two states; but don't lose the lessons of this setback'. The Budget presented to Parliament today shows the Congress refuses to learn any lesson. At a time when the common man feels deeply distressed about the high cost of his daily meals, it was astounding to hear the Finance Minister exult about the 'good news for cat and dog lovers', and announce that the duty on pet foods had been reduced from 30 per cent to 20 per cent! This government's mandate was: relief for the aam aadmi (common man) and kisan (farmer). Today's Budget is a total betrayal of this mandate.
Amar Singh, Samajwadi Party: The Budget clearly speaks that 'Congress Ka Haath' (Congress' hand) is only with the industrialists and not with the common man as they have been claiming. There is nothing in it to check inflation, price rise. There is nothing for women and the common man. This Budget would lead to Congress' destruction. This government has not learnt any lesson from Uttarakhand and Punjab.... Aam admi has nothing to do with Sensex and GDP. Farmers are still committing suicide.
J. Jayalalithaa, AIADMK chief and former Tamil Nadu CM: The Budget aims at growth without equity and would only further marginalise the voiceless poor of the country, leaving them to fend for themselves or look for government doles. The Budget displays the twin faces of the UPA government -- the benign face for the rich and the derisive face for the poor-- the face of Dr Jekyll to the rich and Hyde to the poor. The only difference is that the benign face is masked and not candidly visible, by craftily giving the impression that the corporate world is not pampered. Farmers have not gained anything and have been completely ignored. The grandiloquent announcement that there is no dearth of schemes and no dearth of funds is nothing but pure rhetoric. Nothing much seems to have been done to curtail inflation. The emphasis should have again been on growth, coupled with anti-inflationary measures, so that the fruits of growth are available to every citizen. The half hearted attempts at reduction of customs duties, marginal reduction in ad valorem duty for petrol and diesel and dual excise duty for cement will not help bring down inflation.
H.D. Kumaraswamy, JD-U, Karnataka CM: I find that the Budget recognises that the inflationary trend in the economy is disturbing but nothing concrete has been suggested to contain the soaring prices. I am afraid that the common man will be increasingly burdened by higher prices in the coming financial year. The Budget recognises that the growth in agriculture was not satisfactory and stresses the need to achieve the 11th plan target of four per cent growth, but nothing new has been provided. There has been a lack of imagination; bold measures needed to help the rural sector have not been taken.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, BJP: Chidambaram has made pet foods cheaper, but nothing has been done for the people. It has nothing to stimulate growth. The Budget was widely expected to have measures to check inflation, which is hovering at a two-year high of 6.7%.
Suresh Prabhu, Shiv Sena: Chidambaram's efforts would not help the aam admi. The Budget is listless, unimaginative and timid and has no measures to rein in inflation. The Finance Minister has lost a golden opportunity to jack up the growth rate to ten per cent. In an attempt to please all, he has displeased everyone.
Digvijay Singh, JD(U): This is a directionless Budget before the election year's Budget. We all know what will be there in the next Budget.
Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, RJD, Rural Development Minister: We had asked for inclusion of 200-400 districts under the NREG (National Rural Employment Guarantee) scheme, but only 130 have been included.. We are not satisfied.
Dr S. Ramadoss, PMK founder: The Budget contains several programmes to face many challenges before the nation. Agriculture and farmers have been given focus. It contains a lot of programmes for strengthening the rural infrastructure and employment generation. Despite more allocation of funds for various sectors, reduction in the revenue and budgetary deficits has proved the prudency of the Finance Minister.
M. Karunanidhi, DMK, Tamil Nadu CM: The Budget is farmers and middle class-centric. It concentrated on major sections of the population.
Sitaram Yechury, CPI-M polit bureau member: We will move amendments to the Budget. We want correctives to be carried out by the government. The Finance Minister failed to seriously address the problems of unemployment and inflation and did not exploit the many opportunities for additional resource mobilisation, specially by taxing the rich whose income shares have increased. In the context of the inflationary crisis affecting the economy, Budget 2007-08 comes as a disappointment...He has kept expenditure increases under a tight leash while restructuring it in a way that goes against the interest of the working people and the state governments. There is no word on granting price support to farmers to prevent suicides, on employment generation and on implementation of 'pro-people' commitments in the Common Minimum Programme. There are some references to the Left wish-list here and there, but these are not matched by adequate allocations.
Biman Bose, CPI-M polit bureau member: It is a bad budget. There is no tangible proposal for families of farmers. There is no sign of any bold step by the Finance Minister in the budgetary proposals on agriculture, education, health and employment generation. The CPI-M had been telling the UPA government repeatedly to pursue pro-people policies and ensure that commitments made in the Common Minimum Programme were reflected in the Budget. Inflation is a big problem, as a result of which the common people are suffering a lot. But no specific measure has been taken to arrest inflation and the government should have taxed the rich to mop up additional resources.
Mohammad Salim, CPI-M: Though there has been more allocation for the social sector, there is nothing much for the common man and labourers. We also expected the government to come out with concrete proposals for the welfare of minorities in the wake of the Justice (Retd) Sachar Committee Report. But we are disappointed. The Budget has only increased credit flow, which alone will not help address the problems faced by the agricultural sector as also the farming community.
Gurudas Dasgupta, CPI: The Budget is a deplorable exercise as it has failed to address the problem of farmers' suicides or the plight of unorganised labour. It has even reduced service tax for corporates instead of raising it for mobilising resources for welfare schemes for masses.
Murli Deora, Congress, Petroleum Minister: The Budget is well balanced with the focus on the common man. I would have been happier if excise duties had been halved to four per cent. The elimination of excise duty on bio-diesel will boost environment-friendly fuels. The oil industry will also benefit from the cut in central sales tax by one per cent. This will assist in inter-state movement of petroleum products in a cost effective manner. Gas transport infrastructure will rapidly expand with the grant of infrastructure status under section 80-I. This will enthuse companies to come forward to build gas networks in the country.
Jayanti Natrajan, party spokesperson, Congress: The Budget has focussed on agriculture which was the most important priority area of development. We specially welcome the increased allocation in education and health and the Finance Minister's effort to address issues concerning all sections of society. The concern for 'aam aadmi' is reflected in the exercise.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, Congress MP: It is a very positive growth-oriented Budget that can assist in empowering India into a new economic future.
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