New Delhi, Feb 1 : Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday resorted to copious use of Hindi during the presentation of his last full budget before the next general elections, probably targeting rural audiences apparently to carry the announcements related to farmers, poor and the marginalised sections.
Jaitley, who started his 105-minute speech in English, turned to Hindi often starting with his jibes at the former UPA government on corruption.
"Ek samay tha jab bhrashtachar, shishtachar ka ang ban gaya tha. Aaj hamare nagrik hamare nagrik visheshkar navyuvak imandari se jeevan vyatit karne ko tatpar hai (There was a time when corruption was commonplace. Today, our people, especially our youth, are curious to lead their lives honestly)," he said.
Likewise he spoke in Hindi while announcing a number of schemes and incentives focused on rural india and agriculture such as Prime Minister Saubhagya Yojana, Swachh Bharat Mission, Ujjwala Yojana and Prime Minister Awas Yojana.
"For several years, we have been stating that India is primarily an agriculture based country. As India is primarily an agriculture based country, our districts can specialize in some or other agricultural produce and be known for it. But special attention is lacking in this regard. There is a need to develop cluster based model in a scientific manner for identified agriculture produces in our districts in the same manner as we have developed model for industrial sector," he said in Hindi.
The most-sought after bench during the budget speech was the row right behind the Finance Minister where a host of senior and junior ministers jostled to adjust probably to get into the TV frame.
Veteran BJP leader Shanta Kumar was the first to sit on the extreme right of the second row. Then came Ministers of State for Finance P. Radhakrishnan and Shiv Pratap Shukla. Soon after Minister of State for Law and Justice P.P. Chaudhary came and took the seat left of Shukla.
Minister of State for Labour and Employment Santosh Kumar Gangwar then came and asked Shukla and Chaudhary to accommodate him there. He sat between the two. Then Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan came, signalled Chaudhary and Gangwar to vacate the seat but they were reluctant.
Finally, Chaudhary left and went to the extreme left seat in the row behind the Prime Minister, which is allotted to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar. As Chaudhary shifted there he saw Ravi Shankar Prasad, his senior in the Law ministry seated behind him in the back row. He offered the seat to him and finally shifted to his officially alloted seat. Interestingly, Prasad could not sit there as Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar reached looking for their seats.
During his long speech, Jaitley sipped water four times. He began his speech at 11.05 a.m. But after 17 minutes, he sat on his seat and continued the address till he finished it at 12.50 p.m.
As the Finance Minister was presenting the Budget, some opposition leaders were seen busy noting down the important points while some were seen using their mobile phones. Left leaders P. Karunakaran, M.B. Rajesh and N.K.Premachandran were seen taking notes on papers, Kavitha Kalvakuntla of TRS and Tathagata Satpathy of BJD were seen using electroninc note books. AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi and SP's Dharmendra Yadav were seen using mobile phones.
The members of the treasury benches did not miss any occasion to thump the desks during announcement of schemes and incentives while on the other hand the opposition members made some lighter comments. When Finance Minister was announcing schemes for farmers, TMC leader Saugata Roy was heard saying, "farmers are still committing suicide".
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who was in conversation with party leader Sonia Gandhi, sought to raise questions on announcements related to health and agriculture but his voice was drowned by treasury bench members who were thumping the desks.