Highlights: Populist sops draw loud cheers amid Modi-Modi chants

Interim Budget for 2019-20 - PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during budget session of Parliament in New Delhi on Feb 1, 2019. Union Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal is presenting interim Budget for 2019-20 in the house. (Photo: IANS/RSTV)

New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS) Populist announcements, including full income tax exemption for individual tax payers having an annual income up to Rs 5 lakh and Rs 6,000 cash support to small and marginal farmers drew the most attention from Lok Sabha members on Friday when Finance Minister Piyush Goyal was presenting the Interim Budget 2019-20.

It elicited loud cheers from the treasury benches as members chanted ‘Modi-Modi’ amid thumping of desks, while the opposition members looked on unmoved and some even jeered.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, too hailed the announcements by thumping their desks.

During these announcements, the family members of Goyal who were seated in the Speaker’s gallery cheered and applauded.

As the Finance Minister entered the House for presenting the last Budget before the general elections, none noticed him because most of the treasury benches members were busy in chatting to each other.

Goyal, who for the first time presented the Union Budget, missed the rousing welcome that Finance Ministers usually get through loud cheers and thumping of desks.

Soon after reaching his seat Goyal touched the feet of Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari, Uma Bharti and BJP veteran Shanta Kumar. The members then welcomed him.

As he stood up for the budget speech, the opposition benches accused the ruling party of leaking the budget proposals to the media even before it was presented in the House.

Members of the Congress and Left parties held up placards related to the unemployment situation in the country.

Almost all the Telugu Desam Party members sported black as a mark of protest against the government’s failure to award special status to Andhra Pradesh — of not fulfilling the promises made during its bifurcation. However, they attended the proceedings.

The dance, drama and masti of the Trinamool Congress members drew a lot of attention. Idris Ali was seen dancing at his seat. Many a time to attack the government in his sarcastic style he raised different kinds of voices.

He was supported by other party members Arpita Ghosh, Mamtaz Sanghamita and Moonmoon Sen. Ali’s style of protest also drew Goyal’s attention, who took a jibe saying, “You remind us of Ramlila.”

Congress member Rajiv Satav reached the treasury benches with folded hands even as Goyal’s speech was in progress. He put a placard in front of him and another near the Prime Minister. Then he returned to his seat without saying anything to anyone.

Pappu Yadav from Bihar was seen protesting against the 13 point roster system in universities. He approached the podium holding some papers and placards.

When Goyal was about to conclude his speech, Yadav reached him with folded hands and tried to show him the placard. BJP’s Anurag Thakur intervened and took him to his seat.

Union Minister Ram Das Athawale tried to invoke Congress President Rahul Gandhi when the measures related to farmers and SC/STs were announced by Goyal. “Rahulji suno …gaur se suno (listen carefully),” he said.

During the speech, Gandhi left the House once, which prompted some of the treasury benches members to say, “Kaha chal diye (Where are you off to).” However, he returned in a while.

UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi was missing from the scene though.

After Goyal’s speech ended, Union Ministers and several other party leaders rushed towards him to congratulate him. Suresh Prabhu was the first to congratulate him.

Gadkari, who was sitting next to him hugged him. Goyal then touched the feet of party veterans L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh too congratulated him.

The Budget presentation were applauded by almost every member from the treasury benches. Some of them were heard saying, “wah-wah”, “kya baat hai” and “aapne sirf budget pesh nahi kiya, janata ko saral shabdon me samjha bhi diya” (You did not only present the budget but made the people understood in simple language).

Many of the Rajya Sabha MPs, including Deputy Chairman Harivansh, Mazid Memon, V. Muralidharan and others were seen in the gallery.

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