New Delhi, Feb 1: Even as there has been a raging debate on the constitutional validity of a possible full fledged budget by the Modi government just a few months before the elections, a closer look suggests there have been several records and unprecedented happenings linked to Budget presentation in India.
Piyush Goyal as an interim Finance Minister in view of illness of Arun Jaitley would be also creating a record for himself by presenting an interim Budget on Friday. Mr Goyal's tenure as Power Minister between 2014 and 2017 saw major transformation in country's power sector including the fast-tracking of electrification of the nearly 18,000 unelectrified villages.
The Finance Minister Mr Goyal is likely to announce increase rural welfare spending as the BJP is keen to woo the farm vote ahead of general elections. Analysts say pressure has been mounted on the Finance Ministry especially after recent assembly elections as farm incomes have been ravaged by low crop prices and rising costs.
Support for small businesses and income tax concessions for individuals may also be part of the Budget proposals. Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad claimed that none but Prime Minister Narendra Modi told opposition leaders that only an interim Budget will be presented.
Notably, on Wednesday evening, MoS Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel had sprang a surprise when he told all-party meeting convened by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan that "there is nothing called interim Budget". Mr Goel's contentions were countered by Congress floor leader Mallikarjun Kharge nevertheless.
In terms of records and old references, the credit for introducing 'first interim budget' goes to R.K. Shanmukham Chetty in his budget speech for 1948-49. However, the first Budget after adoption of Republic form of governance was presented by John Mathai on February 28, 1950.
The budget for 1950-51 had created Planning Commission and credit also goes to CD Deshmukh as being the first Indian Governor of the Reserve Bank of India as well as the Finance Minister to present an interim budget for 1951-52.
Yashwant Sinha, who has questioned the intent of Modi government to present a full fledged budget, himself holds the distinction of creating a few records. Mr Sinha was the first Finance Minister to present Budget at 11am in 2000, till then the Union Budget used to be presented at 1700 hours on the last working day of February.
Sinha also shares a record with Manmohan Singh, who was appointed as economic advisor to the then Prime Minister Chandrashekahr on the advice of Sinha only.
The fiscal 1991-92 was the first occasion when the interim and final budgets of one fiscal were presented by two ministers of two different political parties. Yashwant Sinha presented the interim budget under Chandrashekhar while Manmohan Singh presented the final budget under P V Narasimha Rao.
Dr Singh, a former RBI Governor and who also became PM later, holds credit for presenting a budget for 1992-93 that reduced peak import duty from 300 plus percent to 50 percent and also liberalized the economy allowing foreign investments in India. It was in the Budget that year, Dr Singh had made the popular remarks "It is said that child is the father of the man, but some of our taxpayers have converted children into tax shelters for their fathers."
In 1990s there actually came in three interim budgets. While Yashwant Sinha presented the interim budget for 1991-92 and 1998-99, Dr Manmohan Singh presented for the year 1996-97 and of course Congress was voted out of power in 1996 polls.
The full budget for 1996-97 was presented by P. Chidambaram then with Tamil Maanila Congress. The budget of 1997-98 presented by P. Chidambaram was described as the “Dream Budget”. Mr Yashwant Sinha also shares a record with Dr Singh to have presented five budgets in a row.
In 1998-99 Budget, Mr Sinha earned the nickname of 'Rollback Finance Minister' for withdrawal of various proposals made originally in the Budget.
A glimpse at the old records reveal that in historical perspective, the Budget was first introduced in India on April 7, 1860 from East-India Company to British Crown. The precedent for the convention of the budget speech started at 5:00 pm was set by Sir Basil Blackett in 1924.
Among other records, R Venkatraman and H M Patel have presented three Budgets. Jaswant Singh, V P Singh, C Subramaniam, John Mathai and R K Shanmukham Chetty have presented two Budgets each.
Raiv Gandhi was the third Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Lal Nehru and Indira Gandhi to present the Budget for 1987-88. Quoting Nehru, Rajiv had started his speech saying “The times we live in and the problems that our country has to face do not permit a static or complacent approach or any avoidance of the burdens".
Charan Singh, N D Tiwari, Madhu Dandwate, S B Chavan and Sachindra Chaurdhuri have only presented one Budget each. (UNI)