Nirmala debuts as FM with a length budget speech

People watch Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tabling Union Budget 2019-20, at Vashi in Navi Mumbai, Friday, July 5, 2019. (PTI Photo)

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman perhaps presented the lengthiest budget in history— comprising more than 20,200 words— almost 2,000 words more than what the then finance minister Manmohan Singh had read out in 1991.

 Nirmala almost rivaled former finance minister Jaswant Singh in the time taken to complete the Budget Speech.

She spoke for two hours and ten minutes, just three minutes short of Jaswant  Singh, who had delivered the longest budget speech which had taken two hours and 13 minutes in 2002.

Draped in a magenta coloured silk saree, Nirmala entered the Lok Sabha carrying her budget speech in a four-fold red cloth— 'bahi-khata'— replete with slight embroidery using yellow thread, commonly used by the trading community to keep account books.

"I wanted to end British hangover, and also found it easier to carry it," she said when asked why she gave a finance minister's briefcase a go by.

The Lok Sabha members heard Nirmala's speech in rapt attention, with the Opposition resorting to minor commotion when she announced a fresh Re 1 cess on petrol and diesel prices, and the plans to carry out strategic disinvestment of public sector undertakings, including Air India.

Nirmala's parents Savithri and Narayanan Sitharaman and daughter Vangmayee were present in the Speaker's Gallery.

Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh and members of the Upper House including, Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, K J Alphons, D Raja, Majeed Memon, Narendra Jadhav, Kumar Ketkar and Rajeev Chandrasekhar were present in a special gallery reserved for them.

Nirmala liberally quoted from Basaveshwara, the 12th century philosopher from Karnataka, Swami Vivekananda and Tamil Poet Pisiranthaiyar to accentuate the message she wished to deliver through the Budget.

At one point, she was seen crossing her fingers and folding her hands in gratitude after reading a longish passage in Hindi, a language she appeared uncomfortable to use.

At the beginning of her speech, She invoked a quote from Chanakya Neeti Sutra and an Urdu couplet to drive home the point that any challenging task can be achieved through determined efforts.

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