NEW DELHI: The euphoria associated with the presentation of the Union Budget, lacked the spark that has been evident in previous budgets.
To be fair, save for a few exceptions, the Opposition benches listened in rapt attention.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee began on a tentative note, spoke through 110 minutes, and by the time he had finished, his voice was barely audible.
In between, unlike in the past when he often quoted Kautilya, Mukherjee invoked Shakespeare and assured the House that the future of the economy was in a pair of safe hands. He also appealed to the Opposition benches to understand his predicament.
“The life of an FM is not easy.
When everything goes well with the economy, we all share in the joy. But, when things go wrong, it is the FM who is held accountable, and called upon to administer the medicine,” Mukherjee said.
No sooner had Mukherjee begun his speech than the Opposition benches were seen protesting against the slashing of the return on Employee Provident Fund Savings.
As the chorus grew louder, Mukherjee was seen pleading with folded hands to let him continue.
Speaker Meira Kumar, too, pitched in, asking the members not to disturb the Minister, “who was only doing his Constitutional duty”.
On another occasion, the microphone failed Mukherjee, with his voice becoming inaudible.
With the microphone, which seemed to have conked off, getting set right, he invoked the phrase so much in vogue these days - “roll back”. “I am rolling back my speech,” he said as the House broke into laughter.
He then wound up his speech, asserting that “more than tomorrow’s headlines, he was driven by the headlines that would shape the country’s destiny one decade hence.”