A clear message from the union budget 2023-24 is that it has an eye on next year’s general election. Raising the income tax relief limit and reducing the tax rates may help in wooing the middle classes, but the NDA government has lost yet another opportunity to resolve the genuine issues of the states. The budget once again shows that the BJP is only concerned about winning elections and not to fix the economy in the long run. If one was expecting the budget, the last full-fledged one for the BJP-led NDA before going to the Lok Sabha polls to address the concerns of the states in a spirit of true federalism, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s presentation has come as a disappointment. Her attempt to present a please-all budget has turned out to be high on rhetoric and low on substance.
Even the income tax rebate of up to Rs 7 lakhs announced by the finance minister is insignificant, considering the inflation and price rise. The budget presented no solution to price rise, inflation and unemployment. In fact, some of the welfare schemes saw their funding slashed. The complete neglect of the interests of the states in the budget has once again demonstrated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s oft-repeated catchphrase ‘Team India’ to describe the spirit of cooperative federalism is just an empty slogan. It appears that political considerations are allowed to guide economic decisions.