New Delhi: Lauding the Union Budget as a "pragmatic balance" between fiscal prudence and public welfare, Congress today dismissed criticism from Opposition and some allies that it was "anti-farmer and anti-poor". "The interests of farmers are first and foremost in the mind of the Government and the interests of farmers will, in no way, be compromised. The budget is certainly not anti-farmer. Huge outlays have been made for farming sector," party spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit said at the AICC briefing.
He was responding to questions on Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's refrain that this budget has completely ignored farmers and his party will oppose it in Parliament. "A new emphasis has been given for green revolution in eastern areas. There is no area of agriculture, which the Finance Minister has ignored in the budget. Be it Mulayam Singh Yadav or anybody else, they will have full satisfaction if they see all the proposals," Dikshit said.
He said "if they see all the proposals, be it Mulayam Singh Yadav or anybody else, they will understand that there is a clear emphasis on agriculture in the budget". Union Minister Kapil Sibal, speaking separately, said that the budget takes care of the interests of all sections and that "no other Finance Minister could have done better under this very complex economic situation".
He said that the budget while takes care of the poor by giving money to welfare schemes, it at the same time seeks to accelerate growth and rein in fiscal deficit. Sibal also countered the criticism over Government not giving any tax relief and said that not increasing tax under the prevailing tough economic situation itself was a relief.
At the Congress briefing, Dikshit said "The Finance Minister should be praised for bringing out such a budget amid tough conditions". He also rejected the BJP's criticism saying the main Opposition party has not been able to point out specific lacunae. "BJP is in fact quite surprised that the Finance Minister has been able to maintain a balance between fiscal prudence and giving money for our schemes," Dikshit said.