NEW DELHI (TIP): The Modi government’s first budget is short on that one big idea, or, indeed, a clear road map on how to achieve its objectives — that was the consensus view in the Congress. Much of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s budget proposals, the party stressed, were devoted to providing additional allocations for programmes launched by the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government. “This is a budget which could have well been presented by the UPA itself and I am happy the Finance Minister is keeping to the fiscal deficit target, and hope he achieves it,” former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on July 10.

Asked whether the NDA government’s budget will kick-start growth, he said, “There is no road map, … nothing on specifics; like the rail budget, there is nothing to show.” While Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the budget lacked any new idea, he acknowledged there was an emphasis on the defence sector – substantial allocations on border management, increase in capital expenditure as well as the proposal for increase in FDI in defence.

The former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, like his party colleagues, stressed that Jaitley’s budget did not show any signs of a directional change. He, however, said that Mr Jaitley was constrained by the fact that he just had 45 days in which to prepare his budget, a limitation that only one Finance Minister – in his memory – had overcome: Dr Manmohan Singh’s epochal budget in 1991, a budget that irrevocably changed the direction of the Indian economy.

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