Several opposition leaders slammed the BJP-led Centre on Thursday for allegedly offering nothing to people in the interim budget and said it was more of an "election gimmick" to woo people, even though it has failed to honour the promises made to them on employment, price rise and farmers' income.
The Congress said the interim budget lacks accountability and vision.
The party alleged that the ruling NDA's approach to the economy and governance is biased in favour of the rich and the interim budget neither talks about the promised two crore jobs every year nor about taming inflation or doubling farmers' income.
"It is a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich," former finance minister P Chidambaram alleged.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said, "We ask the (Narendra) Modi government, how many of the promises made by the government in the last 10 years have been fulfilled." He said only big dreams have been shown to people, schemes re-launched by changing names, but what happened to the old promises has not been told.
"How will the new dreams being shown get fulfilled?" Kharge asked.
"Both accountability and vision are missing from this interim budget. We expected some new schemes to ease the sufferings of the poor and middle class from this Interim Budget 2024," the Congress chief said.
Chidambaram told a press conference that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman spoke about the GDP but did not address per capita income. She barely referred to inflation and failed to mention that food inflation is currently at 7.7 per cent, he said.
The Congress leader said the fastest-growing economy is not a badge of honour.
He said in the last three days, there has been a "tiresome repetition of boastful claims" by the government on how India has surged forward in the last five to 10 years.
Chidambaram said Sitharaman spoke about minimum government and maximum governance, but the "minimum" government policy, in reality, has "undermined federalism, starved state governments of funds and virtually reduced the third tier of governance -- panchayats and municipalities -- to ciphers".
"The fundamental flaw in the NDA's approach to the economy and governance is that it is biased in favour of the rich. It is a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich," he said.
"This government has practically forgotten the bottom 50 per cent of the people," the former finance minister said, adding, "We will take this message to the people."
Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav called the interim budget a "farewell budget".
"The BJP government has created a shameful record by completing a decade of anti-people budgets, which will never be broken because now the time has come for a positive government to be formed.
"This is the BJP's farewell budget," he wrote on X.
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said the budget presented before the Lok Sabha polls is more of an election gimmick. "It is very sad and worrying that the sufferings of people due to immense poverty, unemployment and rising inflation have been ignored," she said in a post in Hindi on X.
"If there is ground reality in the government's claims and promises, then more than 80 crore people here would not have been forced to live a life in need of free ration," she said.
Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray claimed that Sitharaman has presented the Modi government's "last" budget. Addressing party workers in Maharashtra's Raigad, he said according to Sitharaman, the budget would focus on four "castes" -- the poor, women, youngsters and farmers.
Thackeray said the Centre has finally realised that the country has these four sets of people.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the budget is a clear signal of the "Modi developmental model", which is enriching the rich and impoverishing the poor.
"This interim budget is a clear signal of the Modi developmental model, which is enriching the rich and impoverishing the poor. More burdens have been heaped on the poor," he said.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) dubbed the interim budget as an "election gimmick".
"There was not a word on funds to states in the budget speech. They are cheating federalism and committing financial terrorism with states," TMC leader Derek O'Brien said.
Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Badal said, "There was nothing in the budget. One thing I appreciate is that since it is a pre-poll budget, freebies will be announced. They did not do that but they patted their own back."
National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah said it is an interim budget, "so do not expect much from it. Every Indian expects that India must progress, inflation must go down, industries must grow, unemployment must finish, and we should have good healthcare, good education, good road infrastructure."
Revolutionary Socialist Party MP N K Premachandran said the Centre proudly says that 25 crore people have been taken out of the poverty line.
"But the contradictory fact to be noted is that at the same time, the finance minister is saying that 80 crore people are getting free ration and that will continue next year also. So what does it indicate?" he asked.
AAP leader Atishi said "this budget has once again proved that the Modi government is actually a 'jumlewali' government".
Suspended BSP MP Danish Ali said this was the interim and last budget presented by this government.
AIADMK leader Vaigaiselvan said the interim budget is a big disappointment, especially for farmers.