CHENNAI : Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said her two hour plus budget speech days ago was inevitable since every aspect of the economy warranted a careful response and expressed regret for putting people to inconvenience.
The minister, when asked if such a lengthy budget speech was warranted -which drove her to a point of exhaustion- something which was not seen in the past few decades, said it was needed. “It was needed. Definitely it was needed. I would have completed reading out the remaining portion after drinking water,” she said addressing a press conference.
A Kashmiri verse, quotes from Tamil poets and references to Saraswati-Sindhu civilisation peppered Sitharaman’s 160- minute long marathon budget speech on February 1 which got cut short at the fag end after she felt unwell. “Sorry. I agree, all of you were put to inconvenience. I don’t know if you thought (why) this lady was talking for about two and a half hours. But I had things to be spelt out and we have a duty to implement and we will do it,” she said.
Pointing to elaborate pre-budget consultations with stakeholders and efforts to fulfill the aspirations of every sector, she said she had a need to speak for such a duration and it became “inevitable.” “I did not speak to create any record, but every aspect of the economy warranted a careful response and it made the speech lengthy.”
After around 150 minutes, Sitharaman appeared tired and sipped water at least thrice before cutting short her speech in Parliament. In between when a staff member went to get a glass of water, Sitharaman took a candy that was offered by Gadkari.
Ministerial colleague Harsimrat Kaur Badal also came up to the finance minister and offered her a candy. Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah were also seen talking to her. Unable to continue, she told the Speaker to consider the rest of the speech as laid in the House and sat down. Soon after the proceedings were adjourned, Modi walked up to her and greeted her.
Sitharaman’s first budget speech in July 2019 went on for around 137 minutes. Incidentally, when she was addressing the post budget press conference here, Secretary, Economic Affairs, Atanu Chakraborty, who was seated right next to the minister, repeatedly dozed off, prompting photo journalists to click photographs.
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