When temporary Finance Minister Piyush Goyal was presenting the last budget of Modi’s tenure, there were two contrasting scenes in the Lok Sabha. PM Modi was jubilantly tapping his table, and Rahul Gandhi was seen holding his face in his palms. This reflected the two contrasting moods in both the camps. The major reason was the clauses mentioned in the budget. This was supposed to be an interim budget, but it was anything but an interim budget. With sincere changes in budget allocations, and robust new strategies Goyal was playing two balls with the same bat. One was for the upcoming general elections, and the other was for presenting a long term goal of 2030 for the Indian Economy. In this way, this budget has set new precedents for the upcoming interim budgets in future union governments.
The provision which got the biggest limelight was reducing the tax paying bracket to 5 Lakh Rupees per annum. By doing this, Modi and his cabinet have appeased a large part of the Indian middle class, which incidentally are the primary vote bank of BJP’s government. Apart from doing that, Goyal also announced to provide those farmers with landholdings of less than 2 hectares, Rs. 6000 per year. This was again a move designed to increase the voters base of BJP, as it will bring a lot of farmers in the saffron side of the election arena. Apart from these, the Defence sector received the largest chunk of the budget allocations, with agricultural sector also receiving a major part of the allocations overall.
If one sees the budget as a whole, it is a budget to appease, and it is also a budget to establish Modi’s legacy. But fiscal prudence is clearly missing in the way this budget was made. It now rests on the people of India to decide if they prefer populist economics or a sensible one.