Ashok Gehlot, Chief Minister of Rajasthan and Senior Congress Official | Photo credit: PTI
On February 1, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot criticized the Union budget for neglecting important areas of education, health and social justice and cut the allocation by 33% for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), which had proven to be a lifeline for the poor during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Gehlot said the budget was against the poor, landless farmers and ordinary people.
“Only hollow headline announcements were made in the budget… The provision for agriculture and farmers’ welfare is 6% or ₹7,500 crore, less than the previous year Similarly, there is a reduction of 15%, or ₹23,000 crore, in the subsidy for urea,” Mr Gehlot said in reacting to the budget.
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The negligible increase in budgetary allocations for education, health and development of women and children showed that these areas would remain neglected, Gehlot said. Besides, the life of the common man would become even more difficult in the absence of any policy statement aimed at curbing inflation, he added, while pointing to soaring commodity prices.
The top Congress leader said the budget was “very disappointing” for Rajasthan, as the request to give national status to the Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP), which would benefit 13 districts through the interconnection of three rivers, had not been accepted. The project was directly related to the development of the state, he said.
“The Narendra Modi government has sanctioned ₹5,300 crore as additional aid to Karnataka for the Upper Bhadra project, keeping the elections in mind. It shows the Centre’s mother-in-law treatment of Rajasthan,” Mr. Gehlot said.
Mr Gehlot said the people of Rajasthan would give an “appropriate response” for the treatment meted out to them at the appropriate time.