Government Honours 'Mother Cow' In Budget Ahead Of Elections

Budget 2019-20: Piyush Goyal announced the "Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog" or "national cow board" to look after the welfare of cows and boost dairy production.

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Government Honours 'Mother Cow' In Budget Ahead Of Elections

Budget 2019-20: The cow reference fed criticism that the BJP is catering to the right-wing.


New Delhi: 

Along with farmers and the middle class, minister Piyush Goyal also had a cow-themed announcement in an interim budget that critics say is entirely targeted at the national election, due by May.

"This government will never shy away from honouring our mother cow," Piyush Goyal, interim finance minister, said in his speech in parliament, which lasted one hour, 45 minutes.

Shortly after beginning his speech, Piyush Goyal announced the "Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog" or "national cow board" to look after the welfare of cows and boost dairy production.

The reference to the cow fed criticism that the ruling party is catering to its right-wing supporters and hardliners; the opposition has in the past accused the government of going soft on cow vigilantism and mob lynching in the name of cow protection.

The budget is the last before the country of 1.25 billion people, Asia's third-largest economy and the world's biggest democracy, goes to the polls in elections due by May.

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Budget 2019-20: Union Minister Piyush Goyal presented the interim budget in parliament.

The government announced that small and marginal farmers will receive direct annual handouts of around 6,000 rupees, at a cost of Rs 75,000 crore to the government.

Other measures included a full tax rebate for those earning up to Rs 5,000.

Many had predicted a populist budget after the BJP's election defeats in December in three major states that fall within what is the "cow belt" region of northern India. It is this region that was seen to have propelled Prime Minister Narendra Modi to power in a landslide in 2014.

Besides the farmer distress, a jobs crisis and middle class anger over prices was assessed as the factors that sank the government in the state polls.

On Thursday the Business Standard published what it said was an official report buried by the government showing unemployment at 6.1 percent, the highest since 1972-3.

The government said the data was not verified.

(With inputs from AFP)



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