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With Eye On Assembly Elections, Maharashtra Budget Showers Sops

Maharashtra’s three-party alliance government’s last budget has instigated a war of attrition. As anticipated, the budget has showered a bevy of announcements with an intent to please as many sections of society as possible in view of the coming assembly election. Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, after presenting the budget, expressed confidence that it will dispense justice to all. Similarly, opposition leaders including Uddhav Thackeray have attacked the budget, saying that it lacks imagination and initiative to develop the state. The state is under a debt burden of over Rs 7 lakh crore though its ratio with vis a vis state GDP is within norms. The proposed measures in this budget are bound to add to the indebtedness as over Rs 50,000 crore will have to be shelled out during the year towards the interest payment. At the top of Pawar’s basket is the “CM’s Mukhyamantri Majhi Ladki Bahin Scheme (My Dear Sister Scheme)” under which all women between 21 and 60 years of age will receive Rs 1500 every month. It is a replica of a similar scheme under implementation in Madhya Pradesh. Farmers, too, are wooed by promising them to write off all their dues towards the power consumption for their agricultural pumps.  Girls desirous of taking professional courses and falling in specified economic categories will not have to pay any tuition or examination fees. Pawar, while presenting the interim budget for 2024-25, has promised three cooking gas cylinders free of charge to eligible families annually. The resultant additional burden is being calculated by the opposition to sharpen its attack during the current session.