Tomorrow is the Union Budget day, for the first time in India on the first day of February instead of the usual last day.
The start of the new financial year on All Fools Day (April 1), financial year closing on March 31 and presentation of the Budget on the last day of February, with a separate Railway Budget on the day before it, have all been blindly accepted in independent India as the British government was following it.
India being an agricultural country, its festivals and traditions centre around farm practices and a way of life dictated by agriculture. That was the reason Sankranti, Lohri or Bihu,the harvest festivals,come in January when the sun changes its course.
The independent country’s first rulers, however, chose to follow the industrialised England’s parliamentary practices instead of those of agricultural India. The Budget day brings back to me the memories of my pre-Emergency parliamentary reporting days, carrying the bulky budget books, trying to make sense of the allocations and levies and getting the reactions of different political leaders to the Budget.
Then, after a few years of doing it, it becomes obvious that the leaders would react in a fixed manner, whatever the Budget decides. Perhaps they do not even understand its provisions, or may have even slept through the lengthy speech.
Their reactions have been so predictable that yesterday, two days before the Budget, a friend sent on WhatsApp, the reactions of all the parties. The likely budget ‘reactions’ on February 1, 2017, after the budget, according to him, are”
1. BJP– “It is a pathbreaking, pro-farmer Budget and will help the last person in the society.
2. Congress – An anti-poor Budget that will increase inflation.
3. AAP – The Budget has been framed only to benefit Adani and Ambani.
4. CPI & CPM – It will serve American interest and result in mass unemployment.
5. JDU – Nothing special, wasted opportunity.
6. RJD, TMC, SP and other ‘chillar’ parties – The poor and downtrodden will suffer more.
7. BSP – It is a Budget of the Manuvadis to favour upper castes
8. Shiv Sena – It is am anti- Maharashtra Budget exposing failure of BJP and Modi.
9. CII, Assocham, FICCI – This Budget will kick-start economy and encourage private investment.
10. NDTV, India today, Network 18, Aaj Tak, ABP, etc – Nobody seems to be happy with the Budget, it is likely to create problems for the NDA government.
11. Times Now, Zee, India TV – A great Budget, it will help BJP in elections.
The ‘reactionaries’ are so predictable that asking them for their views seems to be a waste of time. Their reactions are as predictable as the enquiry committee reports appointed by politicians. If the party in power favours a particular project, the study will say it is beneficial. Even’expert’ or technical committees give reports favouring the views of the political bosses.
Perhaps the findings are written in advance and those who agree to put them in their reports are appointed to conduct the enquiry or study.
Of course with fat emoluments and perks.