NEW DELHI: On the day of the Union Budget presentation, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman decided to go with the swadeshi 'bahi khata' instead of the traditional budget briefcase.
Sitharaman flashed the bahi khata, which is a kind of a ledger, wrapped in a red coloured cloth, containing a copy of the budget speech and other related relevant papers outside the North Block. Present alongside her were MoS Finance Anurag Thakur, Finance Secretary S C Garg, and Chief Economic Advisor Krishnamurthy Subramanian, among other officials.
Speaking to ANI, CEA Subramanian, when asked about the replacement of the briefcase, said, "Sitharaman believes that leather made products are not auspicious for the big occasion, so she avoided the leather bag and took the bahi khata wrapped in the red cloth. This is considered to be auspicious. Also, ditching the briefcase symbolises our departure from the slavery of western thought."
"The Finance Minister has worked in the United Kingdom and she knows the tradition of our country. We must appreciate her decision," he added.
The tradition of posing with the briefcase before the budget speech started with Independent India's first ever budget presented by then Finance Minister RK Shanmukham Chetty on November 26, 1947.
Earlier, during the customary halwa ceremony, which takes place before the commencement of Budget Session, Sitharaman started the trend of unfolding the red ribbon rather than cutting it.
As per the Union Minister, cutting a ribbon on an important occasion is not considered auspicious.
Owing to this belief, Sitharaman unfolded the traditional red ribbon and was followed by Thakur and Garg, who also did the same.
The budget, which will be presented today in the Lok Sabha, is expected to boost spending at the cost of short-term slippage in fiscal deficit targets.
It is believed that Sitharaman might give relief to the farmers and the common man by raising personal income tax threshold for certain categories and upping spending on agriculture, healthcare and social sectors.
Whenever a new government is elected, the Parliament convenes for the Budget Session and the newly-sworn in Finance Minister presents the Budget outlook for the first year till February 1.
The 17th Lok Sabha's first session started on June 17.