Budget 2018: First Time Finance Minister Breaks ‘Tradition’

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Priyanka Dutta, New Delhi: Budget 2018- This is Mr Jaitley’s last full budget before next year’s general election. In a departure from tradition, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s Budget speech is in Hindi today, in what is seen as a political statement ahead of a string of polls and the 2019 national election.

It is the first time any finance minister is delivering the Budget speech in both Hindi and English. It is also a big first for Mr Jaitley as he presents his fifth straight budget speech. He is known to be equally adept at both the languages, having been the ruling BJP’s spokesperson both in and outside the government. It was seemingly to address the Hindi-speaking citizens or those who do not understand English.

Officials say the debut of Hindi in the Budget speech is aimed at establishing a greater connect with rural population, with the government stressing on a boost for farmers, rural poor and small business.

Earlier, the NDA governments have made at least three changes in the budget presentation. Budgets were always presented at 5 pm keeping in mind the British time. However, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government changed the timing to 11 am.

The Narendra Modi government too presented a “historic budget” in 2017. It was historic for two reasons: Budgets were presented on the last day of February. The railway budget would be presented a couple of days ahead of the general budget.

Arun Jaitley’s Budget 2018 speech in Hinglish highlights Hindi’s prevalence these days. Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered his speech in World Economic Forum summit at Davos in Hindi. Going a step forward, Arun Jaitley read the budget in Hinglish, for the first time. It was a generous mix of Hindi and English. English words and terminologies outweighed the Hindi ones.

Assembly polls are due in eight states, including three ruled by the BJP, before the general election. Mr Jaitley had emphasized that the agriculture sector would be the top priority for the government to address farmer distress ahead of the elections.