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Budget 2024: A Poll Confident Modi And BJP = No Respite For The Middle Class

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Ram Ram. The fiscal ledger of government expenditures, better known as the budget, has been unveiled. Contrary to expectations, the budget turned out to be more lackluster than anticipated. The excitement surrounding the budget has diminished following the introduction of GST and the discontinuation of the separate railway budget. However, salaried individuals like us always keep an eye out, especially since those earning more yet evading taxes might not even be aware of the income tax slabs. Our anticipation has been ongoing since 2017, a whole seven years. It was then that Arun Jaitley reduced taxes for incomes between 2.5 to 5 lakh. Since then, the slabs have remained unchanged. In the 2019 budget, Piyush Goyal increased the standard deduction to 50,000 and introduced a full tax rebate for incomes up to 5 lakh, which was also an interim budget.

Expectations Versus Reality

With the Lok Sabha elections on the horizon, expectations were high for this budget, which ultimately turned into disillusionment. PM Modi’s confidence, or rather, his trust in the electorate, outweighed everything else. The aspirations of the 3.5 crore income tax payers seem insignificant in comparison, with their faith resting solely on Modi. It’s a peculiar situation where the BJP knows well that our disappointment will barely scratch the surface of the electoral mandate.

A Missed Opportunity for a Popular Budget

Prior to the elections, the government could have presented a more populist budget, especially with a significant opportunity to appeal to the middle class following the Ram Mandir construction. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman could have played a card in the supplementary budget, as there’s no law against it. This government granted a rebate in the 2019 budget, and before that, Chidambaram announced several populist measures in the 2014 supplementary budget. However, the Modi government chose not to follow this path. Aiming for a 400+ mission, the BJP presented a budget focused on the economy’s health. Sitharaman made it clear that direct and indirect tax structures would remain unchanged.

A Token of Thanks but Little Else

Sitharaman did extend a thank you to taxpayers for their significant contribution to the nation’s development. The government has rationalized tax rates, with no liability for incomes up to 7 lakh under the new tax regime.

However, beyond the thank you, there was little to appease the taxpayers. Considering the fiscal deficit at 5.8 percent of the GDP, it’s clear the difference between revenue and expenditure is vast. The government plans to borrow approximately 14 lakh crore rupees next year to fund welfare schemes and boost the economy. PM Modi continues to increase spending on roads, ports, schools, colleges, defense, and manufacturing, which are essential for the country’s development. The budget also increased capital expenditure by 11 percent to over 11 lakh crore rupees.

The Essence of the Budget

Sitharaman summarized the budget’s spirit by stating that “A self-reliant India is moving towards Amrit Kaal with the collective effort of everyone,” echoing the sentiment of “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Vigyan,” and now focusing on research as “Jai Anusandhan.” The budget was crafted with a far-sighted approach, ensuring political stability. The focus on OBCs and caste census by Rahul Gandhi during the Bharat Jodo Yatra was counteracted by Modi’s strategy, reflected in the budget emphasizing that there are only four castes in the country – the poor, youth, women, and farmers. The emphasis on empowering “lakhpati sisters” and focusing on gender budgeting is set to continue.

With this focused approach and a Ram-centric atmosphere, Modi’s government’s confidence has soared to the extent that there was no room left in the budget for minor reliefs for the common man.



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