The Congress on Friday called the Interim Budget 2019 “an account for votes” and a “damp squib”.

At a press conference in New Delhi soon after the presentation of the last Budget of the ruling NDA government before the nation heads to polls, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram slammed both the Budget and Finance Minister Piyush Goyal.

“My one line comment on the budget is that it is not a vote on account but an account for votes,” he said.

“The Interim Finance Minister tested our patience by the longest interim budget speech in the recent memory,” he added referring to Goyal.

“It was not an interim budget, it was a full-fledged Budget accompanied by an election campaign speech,” Chidambaram, who was the Finance Minister during the UPA regime, said.

“For the second year in succession the government has missed the Fiscal Deficit target. The revised estimate shows a slippage from 3.3 per cent to 3.4 per cent,” he said.

Read More: Interim Budget 2019 | PM-KISAN, tax rebate and other highlights

Referring to the announcements on cow welfare, creation of fisheries department and contributory pension scheme for 10 crore unorganised workers, Chidambaram said, “If these were important and necessary interventions, what was the government doing for five years?”

He said that the government has believed in its own “fake statistics” and claimed that millions of homes do not get electricity and thousands of toilets constructed are either unused or unusable.

Taking a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “Dear NoMo, 5 years of your incompetence and arrogance has destroyed the lives of our farmers. Giving them Rs. 17 a day is an insult to everything they stand and work for.”

 

Speaking to ANI outside Parliament after the Budget session, Shashi Tharoor said that the entire exercise has turned out to be a “damp squib”.

“Rs 6,000 in income support for farmers boils down to Rs 500 per month. Is that supposed to enable them to live with the honour and dignity?” he asked referring to the Prime Minister Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) under which the government will transfer directly to each farmers’ bank accounts Rs 6,000 in three instalments.

Read More: Govt announces PM Kisan Samman Nidhi, Rs 6000 per yr for farmers with less than 2 hectares of land

The Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram, however, added that the Budget had “one good thing” – the tax exemption for the middle class.

In a major move that apparently aimed at wooing the millions of salaried middle class tax payers, Goyal proposed a full rebate for individuals with annual income of up to Rs 5 lakh.

“Individual tax payers having taxable annual income up to Rs 5 lakhs will get full tax rebate,” Goyal said as the treasury bench thumped the desks in approval and raised chants of “Modi-Modi”.

Under the existing tax rates, individuals earning up to Rs 2.5 lakh are not required to pay any taxes whereas those earning between Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh are taxed at 10 per cent.

Further attacking the Budget announcements, Tharoor also underlined that the BJP-led NDA government backed away from its 2014 promise of creating a Fisheries Ministry and announcing a fisheries department.

“Having promised a separate Ministry of Fisheries in their 2014 campaign, the BJP backs away from that commitment in Parliament and now announces a separate department which will have at best one month to work before the Election Commission’s Code of Conduct kicks in,” he wrote in a tweet.

 

Goyal in his Budget speech announced a separate Department of Fisheries for welfare of 1.5 crore fishermen. He said that 2 per cent interest subvention will be given to farmers for animal husbandry and fisheries activities and an additional 3 per cent in case of timely repayment.

The NDA government on 1 February, Friday, presented the last Budget before the nation heads for the Lok Sabha elections. In his maiden Budget speech in Parliament, Goyal announced a slew of sops for the farmers, middle class, small traders and workers.

The Budget this year has been dubbed Interim Budget in the wake of the impending elections to be held in the next couple of months.