Tribune News Service
New Delhi, February 1
Going digital, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman read out the Budget from a tablet even as the Shiromani Akali Dal and Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, former constituents of the ruling NDA, walked out of the Lok Sabha in solidarity with the agitating farmers.
Akali Dal’s Sukhbir Singh Badal and Harsimrat Kaur, RLP’s Hanuman Beniwal and AAP’s Bhagwant Mann flashed posters in the House demanding the repeal of the farm laws and stood in the aisle sloganeering in favour of the farmers.
Five minutes into the two-hour Budget presentation, attended by PM Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and the rest of the BJP top brass, Badals and Beniwal walked out.
As the FM commenced her speech, it was a “Jai Shri Ram” versus “Jai Jawan” contest between the Treasury and Opposition benches. Congress MPs from Punjab Gurjeet Aujla and Ravneet Bittu carried placards around their neck that read: “Repeal farm laws that are killing farmers.”
The Opposition benches wore a thin look with Congress president Sonia Gandhi absent. Rahul Gandhi was seated in the second row. National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah was present. Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav marked a brief presence.
Trinamool Congress was the most aggressive with MPs Saugata Roy and Kalyan Banerjee frequently taunting the FM each time she made an announcement on record MSP procurement, proposed disinvestment and private management of ports. “Adani, Adani” chants resonated on the Opposition side when Sitharaman said the government would permit private players to manage ports.
Throughout the speech, the Opposition MPs kept demanding restoration of MPLADs, currently suspended due to Covid.
Modi frequently applauded the FM, giving a cue to his colleagues, who reciprocated heartily even as Opposition MPs were heard asking, “What’s there to clap?” With the news of markets surging arriving within an hour of the speech, the PM greeted her for a “good” Budget of the decade.