Sitharaman Presents Budget 2022 Amid Oppn Taunts, BJP Applause

New Delhi- Lok Sabha members heard Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's 90-minute budget speech in rapt attention, barring the occasional remarks by opposition members and regular applause from the treasury benches.

Keeping in line with changing times, Sitharaman read out the speech from a 'Made in India' tablet personal computer which she carried in a red cover with the National Emblem embossed on it, instead of a brief case or 'Bahi Khata'.

As Sitharaman walked into the Lok Sabha chamber, women ministers Shobha Karandlaje and Darshana Jardosh and member from Madhya Pradesh Riti Pathak were seen greeting her, while Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw gave her a thumbs up.

With Covid pandemic guidelines in force, members were seated in the chambers of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Most of the members, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, were seen wearing face masks. However, members had crowded the Lok Sabha chamber, while hardly a handful of others, including union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Piyush Goyal, were seen seated in the Rajya Sabha chamber.

Members from the treasury benches greeted Modi as he entered the Lok Sabha chamber with chants of 'Jai Shri Ram', 'Bharat Mata ki Jai', and 'Har, Har Mahadev'. A BJP member was heard asking about Rahul Gandhi.

Gandhi, a Lok Sabha member from Wayanad was seated in his usual seat in the second row, engrossed all the time in his tablet PC.

Trinamool member Saugata Roy and DMK member Dayanidhi Maran were heard criticising the allocation made for setting up an international arbitration centre at GIFT city. "Is this Union Budget or Gujarat Budget? This is good only for Gujarat," Roy and Maran were heard as saying.

The duo also demanded greater allocation for states from the GST collections when the finance minister mentioned gross GST collection of Rs 1.40 lakh crore for January 2022.

Opposition members demanded allocation of 5G spectrum to BSNL, when Sitharaman mention that the government planned to auction 5G spectrum in the next financial year.

Congress members protested the announcements related to strategic sale of Air India and Neelanchal Ispat Nigam Limited and the planned IPO of Life Insurance Corporation.

"It is a sell-off of institutions," Congress member T N Prathapan was heard saying.

Several members were dismayed at the non-availability of the hard copies of the Budget Speech of the Finance Minister. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said the speech copies would be available after the presentation of the Budget.

Power Minister R K Singh was seen ensuring that Sitharaman had her supply of lemonade, which she sipped at regular intervals, during her address.

E-Passports, 5G, Battery Swapping

Here is what this budget has for you

1. Tax slabs remain unchanged, but taxpayers can now file updated income tax returns within two years in a one-time window.

2. 5G mobile services to be rolled out within 2022-23

3. E-passports with embedded chips and futuristic technology to be rolled out next year.

4. In boost to EV sector, battery swapping policy to be introduced

5. A 30 per cent tax will apply on income from the sale or acquisition of virtual and digital assets such as cryptocurrency.

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