Thank "Demo" for a Defensive Budget by "Namo"

Government wanted to make up for the lost ground and wanted to heal the wounds it inflicted on the common men by Demonitasation Drive

Author Sushobhit Saktawat
It was the first Union Budget after the much-hyped, much-maligned “Demonetisation Drive” of government, to cleanse the country of the corruption and black money. A lot has been already said about how government of the day appeared to missed the trick with “Notebandi”, a decision which, as many economists suggest, is set to hurt the economic growth of India big time. However, the demonetization didn’t appear to be as unpopular on the ground as it was supposed to be. Reports have it that let alone a public outrage, the Demo can just win BJP the prized Uttar Pradesh elections, as people took it as a mark of a strong and decisive government willing to take the proverbial bull of black money by its horns. However, all eyes were set on Union Budget as to how government can win the day with an apparent masterstroke. Was it the case?

In what was termed as a mini budget, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made his intentions clear in his 31 Decemeber address to the nation, where he announced few sops for the middle class and poor and downtrodden, including relief in housing tax interests. In hindsight, it seemed to be the homework before the big exam. The message was clear : Government wanted to make up for the lost ground and wanted to heal the wounds it inflicted on the common men, by giving them some respite. Came February and the picture was clear. In what appeared to be a populist Budget, Finance Minister took great care of both middle and rural class and made some eye catching provisions. By raising the cap on MNREGA, he also showed that government has now realized that populism is the tried and tested road to the electoral success and it is going to remain the same, no matter if the UPA is running the nation or the NDA.

It seemed that Modi has somewhat managed to get the grip of the narrative that was seemingly gone out of his hand post-demonetization anarchic days. By the end of December, things had started to settle down and the nation was apparently getting psychologically ready for the concept of cashless economy. Cash Rush had already became a far cry and ATM machines were yielding brand new currency notes. RBI had decided to raise the cap for money withdrawal from ATM from 2500 to 4500/- and then to 10000/- and this was welcomed by a large section of people as a huge relief. Came Union Budget and the government took the narrative further. With welcome measures for rural economy, for agriculture sector, for tax paying middle class and for wage laborers, the Budget has set the ball rolling for ruling party to put forth its case with much more vigor in the UP, Uttarakhand and Punjab elections. Let’s see how things unfold for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, as the battle of UP means life to them.
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