“We Are Confident, People Firmly Believe In PM”: Nirmala Sitharaman To NDTV



New Delhi:

The Modi government is focused on empowerment and is not concerned with populist measures, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told NDTV Friday in her first post-budget interview. It does not believe in “hand-holding people (so) it hampers their own decision-making”, she stressed.

Speaking to NDTV a day after presenting the 2024 Interim Budget – which contained no populist announcement, such as revision of income tax slabs – Ms Sitharaman said the absence of such measures in her budget was a nod to the confidence people have in the Prime Minister before the April/May Lok Sabha election, in which the ruling BJP is expected to win a third consecutive term.

“We are confident because people’s faith in the PM is unwavering… because in the last 10 years, we not only announced pro-people schemes but worked hard to make sure that every last eligible person benefitted from these policies. They now we did what we promised,” Ms Sitharaman told NDTV.

“When there is word of mouth… when the people have confidence that a government works to get them the schemes… when all the schemes have reached the people… then there is confidence.”

READ | “Confident As People Have Faith In PM”: Nirmala Sitharaman

“People blessed us the first time (and) the second time… it will happen this time too,” she said, referring to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s wins in the 2014 and 2019 general elections.

Ms Sitharaman also said she had no qualms about spending big on social welfare schemes but emphasised the fact that subsidies and fiscal discipline “are not substitutes for one another”.

READ | “Subsidies Needn’t Be Cut For Fiscal Discipline”: Nirmala Sitharaman

She pointed out that during the pandemic – when the economy was in crisis – the Modi government continued to provide food and essential goods support, particularly to the poorest sections.

The Prime Minister, she stressed, runs a tight ship when it comes to fiscal discipline.

Ms Sitharaman also explained her announcement of a white paper on the performance of the economy in 10 years under the Modi government compared to the previous 10, under the Congress-led UPA.

READ | “This Is The Right Time”: Nirmala Sitharaman Explains White Paper Call

On Thursday Ms Sitharaman presented the 2024 Interim Budget, in which she said the Modi government is working towards a ‘Viksit (developed) Bharat’ by 2047.

READ | “Working To Viksit Bharat By 2047”: Nirmala Sitharaman’s Interim Budget

Presenting her sixth straight budget, she underlined the need to focus on four categories of people – women, the youth, farmers, and the poor – and said their needs were the “highest priority”.

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