New Delhi: Most opposition parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left, on Monday said that the interim budget presented by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has ignored the aam admi or common man and failed to address the economic recession.
However, the ruling Congress said given the 'unenviable task' at hand, the acting finance minister has done a good job.
The chief ministers of some states, including Bahujan Samaj Party's Mayawati of Uttar Pradesh and the BJP's Raman Singh of Chhattisgarh, also criticised the budget.
Reacting to the budget, senior BJP leader LK Advani said the aam admi has been badly let down during the five years of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule.
Speaking after the interim budget was presented, Advani said the UPA tenure has only helped those in the top financial bracket to become multi-millionaire or billionaires.
In a statement, he said the rising prices of essential commodities have thrown the house-hold budget of the middle class and poor absolutely haywire.
"Even more agonising problem has been that of rapidly mounting unemployment, initially because of our own mismanagement of the economy, and later because of the global meltdown," he said.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) came down heavily on the budget with its senior leader Sitaram Yechury saying that the acting finance minister has done little to counter the economic recession.
"The interim budget, which is necessarily an account of the expenditure and revenues in keeping with the revised estimates of budget for 2008-09, has exposed the inadequate response of the UPA government to the severe impact of the global recession on the Indian economy," Yechury said.
He added that in view of economic meltdown, the "UPA government could have announced at least its intention of providing relief to the people through massive increase in public investment in agriculture, rural development, social sectors and infrastructure."
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, who presented the previous five budgets of this government, said this year was difficult.
"He (Mukherjee) had before him an unenviable task - having to present an interim budget at the end of a difficult year caused by a global financial crisis."
"It is, however, a matter of satisfaction that the Indian economy has weathered the global crisis reasonably well and is expected to post a growth rate of 7.1 per cent in 2008-09," Chidambaram said.
According to Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Gurudas Dasgupta, "It is an election budget; it is a Sonia (Gandhi) budget and the platform of Parliament has been misused to launch the (Congress party's) election crusade."
Expressing his party's disappointment, BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the interim budget aimed to confuse the people of the country.
"It is a temporary budget by a temporary central government and a temporary finance minister. Instead of giving any relief to the common man, the budget aims to confuse people," Naqvi told IANS.
The budget "does not reflect any economic stability and has been prepared keeping in view the upcoming Lok Sabha elections", he added.
Convenor of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal-United said the government had claimed that "it has done lots of things for youth, farmers and aam aadmi (common man). Actually, it has not done anything at all for these sections".
He described it as a 'desperate budget'.
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