Previous govts drafted Union Budget with eye on vote bank: PM Modi

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman holds a folder case containing a tablet with files of the Union Budget 2021-22 on it Photo: PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the previous governments drafted Budgets with an eye on their vote banks and made them just a medium for making promises they could not fulfil.

“For decades in our country, the meaning of the Budget was restricted to what announcements were made in whose name. The Budget was turned into an account of the vote bank,” Modi said.

The prime minister was launching a year-long commemoration of the centenary of Chauri Chaura incident, an outbreak of violence that forced Mahatma Gandhi to call off his non-cooperation movement against the British.

Paying tributes to the 19 people who were sent to the gallows for burning down a police station and killing 23 policemen, Modi said the Chauri Chaura martyrs had not got the place in history that they deserved.

He released a postage stamp to mark the beginning of the centenary year of the incident. In an address delivered through video conference, Modi hailed India's “power of unity” and said this will help the country become a world power.

The prime minister listed features in his government's recent Budget that he said will help farmers. But he stopped short of mentioning the continuing protest over the agri-marketing laws enacted in September.

“A lot of initiatives have also been taken to empower farmers. Over 1,000 markets were connected with farmers so that they can sell their crops anywhere. Over Rs 40,000 crore for rural infrastructure will help farmers," he said.

He said the government is also focusing on creating healthcare facilities in rural areas so that people do not have to go to cities for better treatment.

Modi said even household make their budgets on the basis on their current needs and future responsibilities. “But our earlier governments made budgets a medium for promises that they could not fulfil. The country has now changed that approach.” On the 1922 episode, Modi said, "Whatever happened in Chauri Chaura 100 years ago was seen as a simple incident of arson at a police station.” “The fire was not only at the police station but in the hearts of Indians as well," he said.

The PM did not refer to Mahatma Gandhi's decision to call off the non-cooperation movement over the violence by his followers. Modi said the Budget will help meet the Covid challenge. “Many veterans were saying the government will have to raise taxes and pass on the burden to the people,” he said, adding that this did not happen.

The Budget focused on spending on roads, schools and railway lines. Spending on infrastructure will lead to jobs for the youth, he added.

He said farmers have achieved record production despite the pandemic.

Highlighting an Uttar Pradesh initiative to provide farmers with ownership papers for their land, Modi said the move will help them get easy bank loans.

Ninety-nine descendants of those involved in the incident are being honoured as part of the Chauri Chaura commemoration, which began Thursday with 'prabhat pheris', or morning processions, in all Uttar Pradesh districts.

It will continue till February 4 next year, the centenary of the event.

The Chauri Chaura Shaheed Sthal in Gorakhpur is being spruced up and will be developed on the lines of India Gate, Jallianawala Bagh and Cellular Jail, an official said.

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