Punjab has been “completely ignored” by the Centre in its Budget proposals presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today, drawing sharp reactions from across the socio-economic-political spectrum in the state.
Though economists, policy makers and politicians in the state say they would like to believe that the move is not a consequence of the ongoing farmers’ agitation, there are apprehensions that Punjab is being asked to pay a consequent and collective price for the agitation.
Just like the Padma awards, where 30% of the awards went to five states going to the polls, the Budget is meant for the ‘ABC’ (Assam, Bengal, Chennai) where polls are due— Manpreet Badal, Finance Minister
Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said as part of this design to punish Punjab, the Centre earlier withheld Punjab’s Rural Development Fund.
“Also, the UAE wanted to set up three food parks in India and had expressed its interest in setting up one in Amritsar. But the three food parks have been allotted by the government to Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. This could be a consequence of the ongoing farmers’ agitation. There is nothing for Punjab or any other northern state in the Budget, which forces us to think that Punjab has been deliberately ignored, while poll-bound states have been favoured,” he rued.
Dr Lakhwinder Singh, an economist, said by not enhancing the total agriculture outlay in the Budget, it was clear that the philosophy behind the move was that the agriculture sector continued to grow and show resilience without government assistance in the time of Covid-19. “Since the government is bringing laws favouring mega corporations for investment in trade, infrastructure and direct agriculture production system, the government seems to have left the sector to intervention of market forces,” he added.