Post-budget, Right-Left divide will become wider

Those who had expected the budget proposals to signal a flying start to the currently stalled economic reforms in keeping with Narendra Modi's reputation for decisiveness would be disappointed. Instead, what they saw in Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's presentation was no more than a tinkering with the earlier budgets with the raising of the income-tax limits (which has virtually become an annual feature) and lowering of the prices of laptops, mobiles and other consumer items - all intended to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) key constituency, the middle class, happy. The easing of home loan terms will also have the same effect. At the same time, the proposals can be said to have underlined a sound, unspectacular beginning by a government which is apparently in no hurry to make an impression since it is aware that it is here to stay for the foreseeable future. There is a sense of reassurance, therefore, and even of continuity, at this uncharacteristic demonstration of sobriety by a government whose prime minister has sometimes been described as a bulldozer. This impression of a go-getter was confirmed by the proposals in the railway budget for bullet trains and making railway stations look like airports. The raising of fares (despite a partial roll-back) and of freight charges also suggested that the government was unconcerned about administering a "bitter" medicine and eschewing the kind of populism which characterized the previous regime.

Latest News