Former Finance Minister, the Congress's P Chidambaram, Saturday gave an abysmal rating to the union budget 2020, saying the government has held onto debatable positions like "self-reliance, protectionism, control and aggressive taxation". Asked to rate the budget 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.
"There is nothing in the Budget that leads us to believe that growth will revive in 2020-21. The claim of 6 to 6.5 per cent growth next year is astonishing and even irresponsible," Mr Chidambaram said.
The economy, he added in a statement, is "demand-constrained and investment-starved".
"The FM has not acknowledged these two challenges, and that is a pity. Consequently, she has proposed no measures or solutions to those two challenges. If the twin challenges remain, the economy will not turn around and there will be no relief to the millions of poor and the middle class," the statement read.
Much like his former boss Manmohan Singh, in whose government he served as the finance minister, Mr Chidambaram also poked fun at the length of the budget. "We have just heard the longest Budget speech delivered by a Finance Minister in recent years. It lasted all of 160 minutes. If, therefore, all of you are exhausted - as I am - I would not blame you," read a statement from him.
Earlier Saturday, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a noted economist and the architect of liberalisation, had refused to comment on the budget, saying it was "too long to absorb".
Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in a first, did not complete the budget speech, which, at 2 hours 40 minutes, was the longest ever. She paused mid-way and sat down after she reportedly felt unwell, and had to be given sugar.