Why Modi govt’s Budget 2018 is unlikely to be populist
New Delhi, Jan 22: Since it is going to be the last Union budget of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre there is a lot of speculation that it might be a "populist one", as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is eyeing to win the all-important 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Contrary to perception, the BJP government at the Centre may not bow before the voters.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday indicated that the upcoming budget will not be a populist one and said it's a myth that the common man expects "freebies and sops" from the government.
In an interview with Times Now news channel, the PM pledged that his government will stay on the course of the reforms agenda that has pulled out India from being among the "fragile five" economies of the world to being a "bright spot".
Asked if his government will turn populist in its last full-year budget before the General elections in 2019, Modi said the issue falls under the ambit of the finance minister and he does not want to interfere in it.
"But those who have seen me as the chief minister (of Gujarat) and also as the PM (would know) common man does not want all these things. It is a myth," he said. The common man, he said, expects honest governance. "He doesn't demand sops and freebies. It is our myth."
Modi said his government was taking decisions to fulfil the needs and aspirations of the common man.
Asked specifically if he will resist populism in the budget to be presented on February 1, he said it needs to be decided if the country needs to grow and become strong, should "this political culture, the Congress culture, be followed".
Modi strongly defended his economic policies, saying demonetisation was "a very big success story" and that he was open to changes in the new Goods and Services Tax (GST) to plug loopholes and make it a more efficient "one-nation-one- tax" system.
He rejected criticism of providing a jobless growth, saying "lies" were being spread about employment generation and his government's policies were oriented towards creating jobs.
Acknowledging farm distress, he said it was the responsibility of the Centre and the state governments to identify and address farmers' issues.
On job-less growth, Modi said, "Lies are being spread about employment generation."
There is a lot of buzz surrounding the upcoming Union Budget 2018. The budget will be presented by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on February 1.
The upcoming budget will be the last full budget of the Modi government. The budget in 2019 will only be a vote-on-account. The voters are expecting various largesses and reliefs from the kitty of the finance minister.