Budget fails poor, youths: Mamata Banerjee
Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday described Nirmala Sitharaman’s fifth budget as non-futuristic, opportunistic and anti-people and alleged that the Union finance minister hadn’t addressed issues concerning the unemployed and the poor.
Although the Bengal chief minister was away from Calcutta and had a slew of programmes since Wednesday morning, she kept track of Sitharaman’s budget presentation.
“Is it a budget for the common people? They (BJP) are claiming the budget is exceptional... where is the exception? We have 3.7 crore unemployed youths in the country. There was not even a single word about unemployment and jobs for the youth. The fistful of jobs that used to exist has been abolished. They have sold everything,” she said.
The chief minister has been attacking the BJP on the question of employment for some time as thinks the lack of jobs will become an Achilles Heel of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.
According to data released by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the country’s unemployment rate had breached the 8 per cent mark in December though it dropped a bit in January.
According to the ILO, India’s youth unemployment is 28.3 per cent, placing it in the cluster of troubled Middle Eastern nations like Iran (27.2 per cent) and Syria (26.2 per cent).
“The budget is more focused on polls and less on people’s welfare,” said Mamata, who was in constant touch with former state finance minister Amit Mitra on Wednesday.
Speaking within an hour of Sitharaman placing the Union budget for 2023 in Parliament, Mamata lashed out at Centre. “The budget is not futuristic. It is a total opportunistic budget. There is no ray of hope in this budget as it is only dark. It is a completely anti-people’s budget and focused on the forthcoming elections,” Mamata said while addressing around 10,000 people at a public distribution programme in Bolpur on Wednesday.
Mamata took on the Centre for slashing allocation for MGNREGA, which provides a guaranteed income to the people of rural India, and for allegedly depriving Bengal of its share of rural job wage.
“Last year, the MGNREGA funds (in the budget) had been reduced to some extent. In this year’s Union budget, the allotment for 100-day work was slashed drastically. Please do not expect that they will offer you jobs under that scheme in the near future. In the case of our state, they did not even release the due wages of workers under the 100-day work scheme. Is it not a criminal offence to withhold funds for the 100-day work? It is not an optional but a constitutional obligation to pay workers immediately after their work,” said the chief minister.
Mamata also pointed out that those who were happy with the revision in income tax slabs would not get actual profit because of high inflation. “What have they done for the unemployed youths of India? What have they done to control skyrocketing inflation, resulting in high prices of essential commodities?..,” said Mamata.