West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, one of the most forceful critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government, has slammed the Union Budget, dubbing it "visionless". In a tweet, she also criticised Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's announcement in parliament that the prices of petrol and diesel would be increased.
"#Budget2019 is completely visionless. In fact, the total vision is derailed. On top of it, not only have they imposed cess but also special additional excise duty on petrol and diesel leading to price increase by nearly Rs 2.50/litre for petrol and Rs 2.30/litre for diesel As a result, price hikes will hit from transport to market to kitchens. Commoners are suffering and suffering...This is Election Prize," she tweeted.
The BJP scored a massive win in the national election concluded in May, winning 303 seats. The party also made deep inroads in West Bengal, where they won 18 out of 42 seats. Ms Banerjee's Trinamool Congress won 22 seats.
Ms Sitharaman, first woman to hold the office, delivered her first Budget speech. In a first, she introduced the Budget bahi khata (ledger) or red cloth folder enclosed with a string and emblazoned with the national emblem, ditching a colonial-era tradition of carrying Budget papers in a briefcase.
Announcing the Budget, she said India will become a $3-trillion economy this year. She proposed to extend the 25 per cent ceiling to corporates with a turnover up to Rs 400 crore, permit filing of income tax returns using either Aadhaar or PAN, and announced a TDS or tax deducted at source of 2 per cent on cash withdrawals exceeding Rs. 1 crore in a year.
Ms Sitharaman didn't mention budgetary allocations in her speech, prompting an attack from Congress leader P Chidambaram. He said it was one of the most "opaque" budget speeches ever made.