BRS MLA Harish Rao’s “joke of the millennium” jibe at Revanth Reddy’s Telangana government

The interim Budget dampened the spirits of those anticipating generous allocations to crucial sectors directly impacting them, he said.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Feb 10, 2024 | 7:51 PMUpdatedFeb 10, 2024 | 7:59 PM

Former Telangana minister T Harish Rao.

The Opposition BRS has castigated the Congress-led state government for its vote-on-account Budget, calling it a major letdown for all sections of society.

“It woefully fell short of allocations to match the lofty promises made by the Congress ahead of the recent Assembly elections,” BRS MLA and former finance minister T Harish Rao said on Saturday, 10 February.

The interim Budget dampened the spirits of those anticipating generous allocations to crucial sectors directly impacting them. Harish Rao declared it an “anti-people and anti-farmers’ budget”, while interacting with the media after the House was adjourned.

Fighting for farmers

The budget signalled a departure from supporting Rythu Bandhu, abandoning the proposal to waive farmers’ crop loans, and providing bonuses for paddy farmers above the Minimum Support Price (MSP).

Rao questioned the government’s ability to implement crop insurance, crop loan waivers, and Rythu Bharosa with a mere allocation of ₹19,746 crore, of which ₹3,000 crore would be allocated to the salary bill. “Rythu Bharosa alone requires an allocation of ₹22,000 crore,” he emphasised.

He ridiculed the Budget’s claim of supplying round-the-clock power to the agricultural sector, challenging Chief Minister Revanth Reddy or any minister to join the BRS to any place of their choice to prove their contention.

Rao dismissed as the “joke of the millennium” the government’s assertion that the pre-bifurcation Congress government had provided quality power. “In those days, farmers used to end their lives as the power supply was irregular. Several farmers, waiting for power supply, used to spend nights at the pump sets. Some of them died due to snake bites and electric shocks,” he charged.

The BRS leader praised party supremo and former chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao for working sincerely towards empowering farmers and accused the Congress government of backtracking on its promises within two months.

Also Read: In “reluctant” interim budget, Telangana Congress government defers 2 out of 6 guarantees

Questioning the non-mention of guarantees

Harish Rao also charged that the assurance of legislation to make all six guarantees mandatory remained unfulfilled.

He highlighted the Budget’s silence on the government’s pledge to deliver on its six guarantees within 100 days, suggesting that the state might be relinquishing its responsibilities. He noted that the old age pension of ₹2,000, promised by the BRS, had not been disbursed to beneficiaries, let alone the promised ₹4,000. “The pensions for January and February are yet to reach the beneficiaries,” he remarked.

The former finance minister criticised the meager allocation of ₹7,000 crore for Indiramma houses, falling significantly short of the ₹23,000 crore requirement. The budget also overlooked the promised unemployment dole for the youth, he noted.

The disappointment extended to government employees, with no mention of the Pay Revision Commission (PRC) and the three Dearness Allowances due to them. For Gruha Jyothi, the allocation of ₹2,400 crore fell far below the ₹8,000 crore requirement, based on the 90 lakh ration card holders.

Rao demanded the waiver of loans for auto-rickshaw drivers and the payment of a monthly allowance to compensate for business losses due to free rides for women on RTC buses.

He raised skepticism about the government’s anticipated additional revenues of ₹59,000 crore. “How are you going to get these funds? You said there is recession still. Are you going to impose new taxes?” he asked.

Also Read: Revanth Reddy is taking a leaf out of KCR’s book for first budget