The centre may have portrayed the Union Budget 2020-21 as one that provides for an "aspirational India", but West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seems to hold a different idea on what it actually portends. She has termed the government's disinvestment plans for the country, especially its proposal to sell some of its shares in the state-held Life Insurance Corporation of India, as part of an ongoing strategy to "ambush" the legacy of the country's public institutions.
"I am shocked and appalled to see how the central government plans to ambush the heritage and legacy of public institutions. It's the end of a sense of security. Is it also the end of an era?" Mamata Banerjee tweeted today, hours after Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman wrapped up her longest-ever budget speech in Parliament.
In her address, the Finance Minister had said that the insurance behemoth will be listed as part of the government's disinvestment initiatives. The Centre proposes to sell a part of its holding in the insurance giant through an initial public offer, she said while unveiling the budget.
Established in 1956, the Life Insurance Corporation of India is fully owned by the central government and has the highest market share in the country's life insurance segment.
The Trinamool Congress chief was not the only opposition leader to criticise the Union budget, especially its alleged omission of matters related to employment. "Our youth want jobs. Instead, they got the longest budget speech in parliamentary history that said absolutely nothing of consequence. The PM and FM both looked like they have absolutely no clue on what to do next," said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
P Chidambaram, Congress leader and former Union Minister, also passed a damning verdict on the budget. When asked to give it a rating between 1 and 10, he said: "Ten has two digits, one and a zero. You can pick either."
In his statement, Mr Chidambaram said the government "is in complete denial" that the economy faces a "grave macro-economic challenge" and the growth rate has declined in six successive quarters.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh - himself a noted economist - had earlier refused to comment on the budget, saying that it was "too long to absorb".
In her budget, Nirmala Sitharaman also slashed income tax rates in an effort to improve spending and rejuvenate the flagging economy.
(With inputs from PTI)