As interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal took centre stage to announce a slew of sops for farmers and middle class, the treasury bench of MPs chanted “Modi, Modi” — turning the Parliament session into an election rally of sorts.
Amongst the many Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs who were thumping the desks and applauding the announcements, the most conspicuous was Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
For most part of Goyal’s budget speech, Modi’s demeanour was of a general who had his whole regiment behind him.
A total contrast to this enthusiasm was the Congress party. And its chief Rahul Gandhi — a new face in the front rows of the central hall of Parliament.
Now, the internet, and the world per se, has been witness to Rahul Gandhi’s serious demeanour. And winks and hugs. But today, especially today, Rahul’s deadpan expression became the toast of the social media.
He slumped, squirmed and slouched in his chair and bore a blank look on his face throughout the speech.
And the world got to see it courtesy the Lok Sabha TV. The television channel showed Rahul’s face just when Goyal announced the biggest sop for the middle-class — full tax rebate till Rs 5 lakh income.
Modi’s sop opera
It was raining sops for the middle class in the budget.
Piyush Goyal announced that individuals with income up to Rs 5 lakh will get a full tax rebate. This essentially means that individuals earning an annual income of Rs 5 lakh will not be required to pay income tax.
Till now, the income tax rebate was applicable to the income limit of Rs 2.5 lakh for individuals aged below 60 years.
If you are investment-savvy, there is more good news for you. Individuals with gross income up to Rs 6.5 lakh will not need to pay any tax if they make investments in provident funds and prescribed equities.
The Narendra Modi government’s move can be seen as a huge measure to woo middle-class voters. Around 3 crore middle-class taxpayers will get tax exemption due to this measure.
This move is expected to pay dividends for the BJP government, which has historically banked on the middle class as its voter banks.