New Delhi: Opposition on Tuesday criticised the general budget as one lacking in vision and offering no growth prospects, as it again targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying he "followed" Pakistan in deciding on demonetisation and launching a surgical strike "on our own people".
Congress leader Veerappa Moily initiated the debate in Lok Sabha on the Union Budget 2017-18 in which he picked holes in the government's economic policy and targeted Modi over a host of issues, like in the past few days.
Attacking the government over demonetisation, he said it has offered no gain for the common man on whom "the State was unleashed". While Modi and other BJP leaders have already begun toning down on the issue in their election speeches, they have not done so in Parliament due to "false pride".
Reasons like fighting corruption, black money and fake currency cited by Modi to justify demonetisation were the same given by Pakistan when it took a similar decision in June 2015 and no other country which has done so ever gave such reasons, the former Union Minister said.
"It dawned on the Prime Minister that Pakistan has taken a right step. Let's follow it. For the first time, we have followed Pakistan. It is unprecedented... It is not worth following Pakistan," he said.
Criticising the budget, he said the time was ripe for a forward-looking budget but it turned out to be a timid one, without any will power or vision to take the country forward. Moily said his party supported merger of plan and non-plan funds and railway budget with the union budget, saying these were good steps forward but the exercise was "messed up". "We are not fundamentally against it."
Praising certain aspects of the Economic Survey prepared by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian, he said there was no synchronisation between it and the budget and while the survey spoke of certain concerns, the budget did not address them. Subramanian, he said, was the only economist in the government.
Noting that the Survey presented before the first budget of the Modi government had said that fundamentals were very strong and the legacy was good, he said the attack on the UPA government over its handling of the economy was political or what many people say 'jumla'.
Demonetisation hit informal sector hard and caused job losses which was not addressed by the budget, he said.
All critics of the government were painted as criminals, terrorists and black marketeers and those supporting it were portrayed as patriots, Moily said.
Published Date: Feb 08, 2017 02:48 pm | Updated Date: Feb 08, 2017 02:48 pm