Chidambaram invokes poets, scholars in Budget speech
Finance Minister P Chidambaram's low-key budget presentation won applause from members as he seasoned it with a fair sprinkling of quotations from poets and scholars, and highlighted sensitive issues that struck a chord with even those seated on the opposition benches.
True to his style, the veteran Finance Minister stayed focussed on his schemes and tax proposals during his 95-minute presentation , which he began with the promise of keeping it "simple, straight forward and reasonably short".
Unlike the Rail Budget two days ago, Chidambaram's speech in the Lok Sabha was heard with rapt attention and there were only a couple of minor disruptions.
The 67-year-old Harvard-educated Finance Minister invoked noted Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, Saint Thiruvalluvar and Swami Vivekanand to impress his audience.
Quoting Stiglitz, he said, "There is a compelling moral case for equity; but it is also necessary if there is to be sustained growth. A country's most important resource is its people."
Towards the end, he read out some lines of his favourite Tamil poet: "What clearly eye discerns as right, with steadfast will and mind unslumbering, that should man fulfil".
Though the Treasury Benches applauded him frequently, Chidambaram invited some brickbats too.
The opposition benches were on their feet and protested when he announced that those states which have substantially fulfilled objectives of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) will get more funds for PMGSY-II but mentioned only two non-Congress ruled states in the list of six.
There were some light moments during the long speech, which put Congress member Dharam Singh to sleep while a few others too were caught napping.
When Chidambaram announced that he shall now make his tax proposals and reached for a glass of water, members took potshots forcing him to abandon the idea.
"He has spilled water on the whole budget," Mulayam Singh Yadav, chief of ally Samajwadi Party, said.