Udayavni Special

Sitharaman delivers longest Budget speech


PTI, Feb 1, 2020, 2:45 PM IST

New Delhi: Kashmiri verse, quotes from Tamil poets and references to Saraswati-Sindhu civilisation dotted Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s 160-minute long marathon Budget speech on Saturday which was cut short at the fag end after she felt unwell. As the minister, clad in a bright yellow sari with a light green border, delivered the longest Union Budget speech ever, some of her remarks, including regarding Beti Bachao Beti Padao programme, were met with protests from the Opposition benches.

Her first Budget speech, in July 2019, went on for around 137 minutes. Apart from a Kashmiri verse, which she rendered in both Kashmiri and Hindi, the minister also quoted poets Thiruvalluvar and Kalidasa, among others.

Many of the announcements including reduction in personal income tax rates were welcomed with thumping of desks by treasury benches. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too joined the members in the applause. Aspirational India, economic development for all and caring society were the prominent themes around which the Budget has been woven, she said.

After around 150 minutes, Sitharam appeared tired and sipped water at least thrice before cutting short her speech. In between when a staff member went to get a glass of water, Sitharaman took a candy that was offered by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari.

Ministerial colleague Harsimrat Kaur Badal also came to the finance minister’s place and offered a candy. Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah were also seen talking to her.

Unable to continue, she told the Speaker to consider the rest of the speech as laid and sat in her seat. Soon after the proceedings were adjourned, Prime Minister Narendra Modi walked up to her and greeted her.

Several ministers, including Piyush Goyal and Smriti Irani, and various members, including from the Congress, enquired Sitharaman about her health. Before leaving the House, Sitharaman waved at her family members who were standing in the gallery.

Her daughter Vangmayi Parkala and three other family members were in the House for the speech. Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Samajwadi Party patriach Mulayam Singh Yadav were among those conspicuous by their absence in the House.

Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harvansh Narayan Singh, and many other Upper House members, including Alphons Kannanthanam and Vaiko, were sitting in the gallery.

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