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Interim Budget 2019: It shouldn't be called as a budget for the election
Has Modi lost an opportunity to woo the public in his last interim budget?

This question arises because the Modi government could have offered the moon to the public through this interim budget. If you compare the 2004 vote-on account, the 2009 interim budget and 2013 budget (at least as per UPA's claim), parties have offered endless SOPs to public.

In the 2014 interim budget, the Modi government had assured an honorarium of Rs 6000 per year to farmers owning land up to two hectors and possible waiver of income-tax for people having income of Rs 5 lakh per year. Apart from these two, the entire interim budget is consistent with all the earlier budgets. You can find systematic and strategic investments in infrastructure, sanitation, farm-sector, defence, education, making India a pension and insured society etc. while maintaining the fiscal prudence. It didn't announce any tax cut on petroleum or SOPs like farm loan waiver.

Even Rs 6000 per year to farmers is less than what Odisha (Rs 10000 per year) or Telangana (Rs 8000 per year) is giving. Further, there's nothing for landless farmers except giving them a cheap (affordable) pension scheme. What this budget stands for?

To understand it let me explain a simple incident of Gujarat. In 2007, when the assembly election was nearby, the erstwhile CM Narendra Modi decided to separate the electric feeder lines for consumption in the domestic and farm sectors. Earlier, there was a single feeder line to supply electricity for both domestic and agriculture purposes. In this process, if the people didn't pay domestic electricity bill, their line couldn't be cut because the electricity for agriculture purpose could also be stopped.

This problem could be solved if separate feeder lines were provided for domestic and agriculture. Many including the BJP members opposed this. They obstructed setting up of separate feeders and lot of arrests were also made. Some well-wishers advised Narendra Modi to withhold this reform (separating feeder lines) till the assembly election was over. But Narendra Modi said that while implementing reforms he doesn't care about the election. He was sure that if he has good intentions then he will win the election. Thus, the electricity reforms took place with forceful intent and interestingly Narendra Modi won the election as well. We can analyse what happened. A majority of people are honest payers of electricity. It's just few people who want free electricity for their domestic use and they were using their political clout to stall the reform. Thus, people supported Modi's honest intent.

In the economic sector also, as Prime Minister, he won praises even from his critics like Sekhar Gupta. In an article, he wrote and praised IBC, GST, inflation, fiscal deficit and GDP. Modi didn't cut taxes on petroleum products whereas he was able to maintain the inflation so low that the overall budget of the common man wasn't disrupted. Modi has invested huge funds in infrastructure which are visible now. Ask any person of Varanasi, Kanpur or any other place besides Ganga River; they will say that they never dreamed that the Ganga can be cleaned. Anyone who visited the Kumbh now says that the Ganga is clean. Then his missions like rural sanitation, Ujjala, Soubhagya Yojana etc are also visible.

That means he systematically and strategically made budget since 2014 to achieve a prosperous India. In everything, he has a vision and a target. For example, the Congress may say that the BJP has insulted farmers by giving them Rs 17 per day. Piyush Goel said that the 6000 rupees per year is just an honorarium to those farmers who cloth and feed us. But the real intention of Narendra Modi is to get the land records digitised in this process. That's why the Honorius is for land owners only.

A realistic vision is always appreciated and accepted. Parties may offer moon to the public, but the public will ask question from where such money will come. Not to forget that during the Gujarat election, the Congress offered SOPs valuing three times of the state's revenue. The farm loan waivers promised in Karnataka, Punjab, MP and Rajasthan are not going forward because of lack of funds. Rahul Gandhi is now offering minimum guaranteed income for the poor but is yet to tell about the source of funds to make this offer practicable.

That's why I am not inclined to say that this interim budget/Vote-on-Account is anyway driven by electoral politics but rather very consistent with the previous budgets aiming for a better India.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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