Stung by the Congress barb of Arun Jaitley aping P Chidambaram's budget, union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was fielded to rebut the charges at a press conference at the BJP headquarters, a day after the budget presentation.
Prasad said that the Budget was a document of hope and an agenda for India's renewal. He said that if the NDA budget was insipid and a copy of the Congress budget , then it meant it was the Congress's budget ideas which were insipid and uninspiring. He also said Congress leaders should worry about their reduced numbers rather than picking holes in the NDA budget.
What got the BJP's goat was Chidambaram's biting sarcasm in his reaction to the budget:
"Welcome to the real world. BJP sought a mandate for Congress-mukt Bharat. My friend, Arun Jaitley, would have realised that it is not possible to have even a Congress-mukt budget." he said. Jaitley, according to him has acknowledged the basic validity of the numbers presented by him in the interim budget in February. The "imprint of the UPA Government's policies" on fiscal consolidation, GST, FDI cap in insurance and social sector schemes can be found throughout the Budget speech of Jaitley and in the Budget documents, Chidambaram had said yesterday.
The BJP and Congress seem to be finally in sync on raising the FDI cap in insurance sector. The story began during the previous NDA regime which proposed raising the cap to 49 per cent but with the Opposition resisting it, the limit was restricted to 26 per cent. During the UPA regime, attempts by the finance minister to raise the cap were opposed by the BJP.
The standing committee on finance headed by BJP's Yashwant Sinha, a former BJP finance minister, was of the view that FDI should be limited to 26 per cent in the financial sector. "The standing committee, a multi-party panel, took a holistic view about the entire financial
sector (banking, pension and insurance) and felt that FDI should be restricted at 26 per cent and in case it was allowed to go beyond that tn as in banking the voting rights should be capped at 26 per cent," Sinha said.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley had said in his budget speech on Thursday that the insurance sector was investment starved and there was need to increase the composite cap in it to 49 per cent, with full Indian management and control through the FIPB route.
To a question on change in BJP's stand on FDI in insurance sector, Ravi Shankar Prasad said "I was a member of the standing committee. We had concerns about it but were never opposed to it in principal."
The Congress, however, indicated its support on the proposal to raise FDI limit in insurance. "We, unlike NDA, do not change stance when we are in government. We will stand by it provided every clause in it is for the benefit of the common man," party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said.
Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the Budget provided for all sector and sections of the economy. He defended and justified the money allotted to the construction of the Statue of Unity of Sardar Patel and the police memorial.