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Union Budget 2023-24 | Opposition: Nothing for poor, middle class; benefits only one class

The Congress and several opposition parties on Wednesday panned the Budget, arguing that it has given no relief to the poor, not offered much for the electorally key middle-class barring the “minor” tax relief and has no concrete proposals for employment generation and to tackle price rise.

While the Congress called it a “callous Budget that has betrayed the hopes of the vast majority of the people,” the Left termed it contractionary and anti-people. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the Budget, which will benefit only one class of people, was “not futuristic”, “totally opportunistic”, anti-people and anti-poor.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too spoke on similar lines.

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The CPM slammed the Government for reducing the allocation for MGNREGA and the cut in food, fertilizer and petroleum subsidies.

While the government is banking big on the massive capital expenditure (capex) hike, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram pointed out that the government had spent Rs 22,000 crore less of what it had allocated for capital expenditure this fiscal. “Allocating money is not equal to spending the money. Nor is allocating money equal to creating jobs. It is only when you actually spend the money, fill the vacancies your objective will be achieved,” he said.

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Praveen Chakravarty, head of the Congress’s data analytics department, told The Indian Express that the capex hike “tells us that the private sector is still not investing.” He said, “For a Prime Minister and a party that came to power claiming minimum government, the government seems to be the only batsman playing. After eight years in power, the government is the only active player in the Indian economy. That is very evident by what the Budget says.”

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Chidambaram said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman did not mention the words “unemployment, poverty, inequality or equity” anywhere in her speech

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “Mitr Kaal Budget has no vision to create jobs, no plan to tackle price rise and no intent to stem inequality. One percent richest own 40 percent wealth, 50 percent poorest pay 64 percent of GST, 42 percent youth are unemployed- yet, the PM doesn’t care…”

Banerjee and Kejriwal said the Budget will not help address the unemployment issue. While the Bengal CM said changes in income tax slabs (under new regime) will not help anyone, BRS leader K Kavitha said besides the increase in income tax rebate limit from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh, there was nothing relevant for people.

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The CPI(M) said, “…it squeezes government expenditures to reduce the fiscal deficit while giving further tax concessions to the rich. It is, thus, a contractionary Budget which will only aggravate the economic crisis.”

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