New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS): Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Wednesday accused the government for ignoring the common man behind, saying the absence of key concerns in Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's Budget speech showed how far this government is removed from the people and their concerns about life, livelihood and the growing inequality between the rich and the poor.
He termed it a callous Budget that has "betrayed" the hopes of the vast majority of the people.
Addressing a press conference, Chidambaram said: "FM has not mentioned the words unemployment, poverty, inequality, or equity anywhere in her speech. Mercifully, she has mentioned the word poor twice in her speech. I am sure the people of India will take note of who are in the concerns of the government and who are not."
He said that last year, the government estimated the GDP for 2021-22 at Rs 232,14,703 and, assuming a nominal growth rate of 11.1 per cent, projected the GDP for 2022-23 at Rs 258,00,000 crore. The GDP for 2021-22 has been since revised upward to Rs 236,64,637 crore.
In today's Budget papers, the GDP for 2022-23 has been estimated at Rs 273,07,751 crore which yields a growth rate of 15.4 per cent, much above the earlier estimate, he added.
Chidambaram also said that no taxes have been reduced except for the small number, who have opted for the new tax regime, while no indirect taxes have been reduced.
"There is no cut in the cruel and irrational GST rates. There is no reduction in the prices of petrol, diesel, cement, fertilisers and no cut in the numerous surcharges and cesses which are, any way, not shared with the state governments.
"Who has benefited by this Budget? Certainly, not the poor. Not the youth looking desperately for jobs.A Not those who have been laid off. Not the bulk of the taxpayers. Not the homemaker. Not the thinking Indians who are shocked by the growing inequality, the rise of the number of billionaires and the wealth being accumulated in the hands of the 1 per cent of the population. Certainly, not you," Chidambaram said.
He also accused the government of being determined to push the fortunes of GIFT city, Ahmedabad,A at the cost of other commercial and financial centres. The government is also determined to push the 'new' tax regime for which there are few takers for a variety of reasons.
"Besides, making the new tax regime the default option is grossly unfair and will rob the ordinary tax payer of the meagre social security that he may get under the old tax regime," he added.