By Saiyed Moziz Imam Zaidi
New Delhi, Feb 5 (IANS): As the Centre is giving a boost to the people-friendly budget with new tax slabs and providing relief to the lower economic strata of the society, the Congress has targeted it for no mention of unemployment, inflation and slashing MGNREGA allocation, which was the UPA's flagship programme.
Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said, "MGNREGA overlaps with PM KISAN. Old Age Pension overlaps MGNREGA with in the case of old workers. There are dozens of such overlaps."
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi termed it as the 'Mitr Kaal' budget -- a spin-off of 'Amrit Kaal' -- has no intent to address major issues.
Gandhi said the budget presented earlier was for 'mitr' (friends) -- in an indirect reference to his claims of the ruling dispensation favouring corporate houses.
Taking to Twitter, the former Congress president said: "'Mitr Kaal' Budget has: NO vision to create Jobs. NO plan to tackle Mehngai (inflation). NO intent to stem Inequality."
"One per cent richest own 40 per cent wealth, 50 per cent poorest pay 64 per cent of GST, 42 per cent youth are unemployed -- yet, PM doesn't care! This Budget proves Govt has NO roadmap to build India's future," he added.
Chidambaram hit out at the Central government's excuse for scrapping the Maulana Azad National Fellowship and said "the subsidy for education loans to study abroad to minority students is grossly irrational and arbitrary".
"Even admitting that there are 'overlapping' schemes, is the fellowship and subsidy to minority students the only schemes that overlap with another scheme? Government is on overdrive to make life more difficult for minority students. Government is openly displaying its anti-minority policy as if it was a badge of honour. Shame," he said.
Chidambaram reacting on the Budget alleged that the FM has not mentioned the words unemployment, poverty, inequality, or equity anywhere in her speech. "Mercifully, she has mentioned the word poor twice in her speech," he said adding that "the people of India will take note of who are in the concerns of the government and who are not".
He said that last year, the government estimated the GDP for 2021-22 at Rs 232,14,703 crore and, assuming a nominal growth rate of 11.1 per cent, projected the GDP for 2022-23 at Rs 258,00,000 crore. The GDP for 2021-22 has since been revised upward to Rs 236,64,637 crore.
But the government has eyed the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the Union Budget has enhanced allocation to the government's ambitious Jal Jeevan Mission by 27 per cent to Rs 69,684 crore for 2023-24, from Rs 54,808 crore in the current fiscal.
The mission envisages providing piped water to each rural household by 2024.
The government's other key initiative, the Swachh Bharat Mission-Rural, which aims to make the country open defecation free (ODF) free, also received a boost in allocation of Rs 77,000 crore for 2023-24, up from Rs 60,000 crore in 2022-23 -- a hike of 28 per cent
Last week, the Jal Shakti Ministry had said that 11 crore rural households have been provided with tap water connections, i.e., 56 per cent of the targeted 19.3 crore households.