The country will not forgive the Congress for opposing government policies for farmers and the poor, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said in Lok Sabha on Monday while replying to the debate on Interim Budget, which was passed by a voice vote amid a walkout by the Congress, NCP and the CPI(M).
Goyal said the Modi government had taken several initiatives in the last four-and-a-half years for the benefit of the poor, farmers and the middle class, and that the Interim Budget was a continuation of that effort.
Referring to PM Kisan Samman Nidhi, under which small farmers will be provided Rs 6,000 financial assistance every year, Goyal said those living in palaces will never understand the importance of Rs 2,000 every four months and so they "belittle" the scheme.
During the debate, the scheme had come under criticism from several opposition leaders, who called the amount "peanuts".
"About 12 crore farmers getting Rs 6,000 each year, which translates into Rs 7.5 trillion in a span of 10 years, is not small by any means," Goyal said. He also refuted the criticism that the government has presented a full Budget in an election year, and said, "We have not announced any new scheme for the next year's Budget. Rather, in 2014, the then UPA Finance minister, without waiting for a regular Budget, had cut duty on SUVs and big luxury cars…"
Earlier, during the debate, MoS (Civil Aviation) Jayant Sinha lauded the government's performance on the economic front, saying tax-to-GDP ratio rose and the fear of "tax terrorism" was gone during its tenure. He said demonetisation had pushed tax compliance and economy under the Modi government was moving at the speed of Rajdhani Express, compared to a passenger train during the UPA.
"If the last four budgets were cakes, then this (Interim) Budget is the icing on the cake," Sinha, who was earlier an MoS in the Finance Ministry, said.
Biju Janata Dal MP Bhartruhari Mahtab said the government had "restrained" the Standing Committee on Finance chairman from sharing with the panel members three reports on black money. Pointing to Veerappa Moily (Congress), the committee chairman, Mahtab said even Moily has been restrained from sharing information with members of the committee, and questioned the motive behind it.
Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda of JD(S) criticised PM Narendra Modi's remarks against coalition governments and said such governments in the past, including his, have had several achievements.