“Electoral Gimmick”: Yashwant Sinha on BJP’s Last Interim Budget

Former Finance Minister and BJP Leader Yashwant Sinha talked to BloombergQuint about the interim budget presented by the BJP-led government on Friday, 1 February. Sinha talked about many aspects relating to the budget – has BJP ticked all the right boxes, political implications, if this budget is more like a pre-poll promise and how it fares against the Congress’ minimum income scheme as an electoral move.

The Modi-government’s last interim budget is being looked upon as a mix of listing out achievements of the government and its promises for the future. Among the proposals that seemed more like pre-poll promises, is a Rs 6,000 income support scheme for farmers, a pension scheme for unorganised workers and income-tax relief, which can be put in place only in the next budget after elections.

Asked if the government, through this scheme, has managed to appeal to a fairly large section of society, Sinha said that the people of India understand things better now, and that such ‘electoral gimmicks’ do not impress them.

“This government has presented five budgets. They have now come out with these goodies. The point is that Indians understand things better, these last moment gimmicks don’t impress them.”
Yashwant Sinha, Former Finance Minister to BloombergQuint

In terms of the schemes, Sinha said that the ones announced by the government come with implementational difficulties and problems.

“Implelmentation will be difficult because unorganized labour, farmers of the country and all, are not so easy to capture and target in a scheme of this kind.”
Yashwant Sinha, Former Finance Minister to BloombergQuint

Whichever government that comes into power, will find it difficult to do away with these schemes. They will have to implement these schemes, he said.

When asked about how a new government, if it is elected to power, would handle these schemes considering it would be difficult for it to change or roll them back, as no farmer would want his Rs 6,000 to be taken away, Sinha said that the Rs 6,000 scheme was an election gimmick and that the next government could double, triple this amount.

When a comparison was drawn on Congress’ proposal for a minimum income guarantee – for its ability go seize the imagination of the voter- Sinha said that such a discussion could only take place if more details are provided about this scheme.

“Something like this can only be discussed when there are details available on it like financial implications and its effect. There are, however, reports that suggest amounts that I don’t think come under the budget of the Government of India.”
Yashwant Sinha, Former Finance Minister to BloombergQuint

Sinha, however, said that such a scheme is very much doable for farmers.

When asked about reports which suggest that subsidies might be taken away for the minimum income guarantee, and whether this was a utopian dream being peddled, Sinha said that if the farmers are concerned, it was certainly doable and that it was a much better scheme than what this government has brought in.

“It can be extended to other sectors depending on how much the state governments will be trying to contribute.”
Yashwant Sinha, Former Finance Minister to BloombergQuint

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *