Jaitley's maiden budget speech - amid a small break

Jaitley's maiden budget speech - amid a small break
It was a day of a few firsts for Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who did not appear to be in his elements, apparently due to a backache. Jaitley presented his maiden budget Thursday - also the first budget of new NDA government - and he became the first minister in recent memory to read out most part of his speech sitting down.

Wearing a canary yellow Nehru jacket on a white kurta, Jaitley, 61, began his speech by talking about the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance success in the Lok Sabha elections and "exasperation of people with the status-quo."

Unlike some of his predecessors who have laced their speech with poetry, couplets and witticism, Jaitley's speech was plainspeaking. There was modulation in his voice but the delivery did not appear to be of a level normally associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party leader.

Almost 45 minutes into his speech as opposition members began to protest some proposals in the budget speech, a visibly strained Jaitley urged Speaker Sumitra Mahajan if there could be a five-minute break.

The unprecedented request was acceded to and some BJP members, including those from opposition, came to Jaitley to inquire about his health. Among those who came to Jaitley were union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Uma Bharati and Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia. A visibly-concerned Home Minister Rajnath Singh urged him to relax.

Jaitley could be heard thanking the members for their concern and telling them about a backache. He also sent a written request to Sumitra Mahajan. After the house proceedings resumed, the Speaker said that Jaitley could sit and read out his speech.

Jaitley, who was in the front row flanked by party leaders L. K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh, appeared more comfortable reading the speech while sitting.

Some of the budget proposals were welcomed by thumping of desks by the treasury benches.

Jaitley sought to put the budget speech in context by outlining the approach and philosophy of the National Democtatic Alliance government which assumed office in May.

"As Finance Minister I am duty bound to usher in a policy regime that will result in the desired macro-economic outcome of higher growth, lower inflation, sustained level of external sector balance and a prudent policy stance. The budget is the most comprehensive action plan in this regard," he said.

Jaitley also took veiled digs at the rule of previous United Progressive Alliance government at the beginning of his speech.

"The country is in no mood to suffer unemployment, inadequate basic amenities, lack of infrastructure and apathetic governance," he said.

He also made reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"The growing aspirations of the people will be reflected in the development strategy followed by the government led by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its mandate of sab ka aaath sab ka vikas (support of all, development of all'," Jaitley said.

After Jaitley ended his speech, Modi was among the leaders who congratulated him.

Read more about: jaitley, union budget 2014
Story first published: Thursday, July 10, 2014, 15:24 [IST]
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