Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, who also holds the finance portfolio, on Tuesday presented a Rs 1,83,666 crore budget for 2018-19, without any new major taxes but also proposing a revenus surplus of Rs 5,998 crore and overall surplus of Rs 783 crore.
The budget was presented amid a walkout by the opposition Congress members alleging that the government was giving a short shrift to the farmers and protesting the support price for groundnut crop.
The Congress MLAs ignored repeated requests by Speaker Rajendra Trivedi, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Nitin Patel before leaving the House. Earlier, the Speaker suspended opposition legislator Harshad Ribabia who was rushing towards his chair and hurling groundnuts all over in the hall.
The opposition benches remained vacant throughout the Finance Minister's budget speech. The Congress MLAs were complaining that the budgetary outlay to the agricultural sector of Rs 6,755 crore reflected the government's bias against the farmers.
The maximum allocation of Rs 27,500 crore has been made for the education sector, followed by Narmada and Water Resources Department at Rs 14,895 crore. An outlay of Rs 9,750 crore has been made to the Health and Family Department, and Rs 9,252 crore for roads and buildings. The lowest outlay of Rs 103 crore is for the Climate Change Department.
After the Congress walkout, the Finance Minister continued his three-hour budget speech asserting that the Congress was unable to swallow its defeat in the recently concluded assembly elections and so was creating obstacles in the state's path of development.
On the Congress allegation on minimum support price for groundnut, Patel claimed that the Congress never gave the MSP which his party provided.
Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani told reporters after his party's walkout from the House that despite its 22-year rule in Gujarat, the BJP had failed to bring the fruits of development to the poor, the Dalits, farmers and the rural areas.
"The state government is squandering away crores of public money on festivals and event management," he said.