For Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, A Special Podium And Other Budget Plans – NDTV

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New Delhi:  Preparing an economically bright and politically right Budget is every Indian Finance Minister’s annual nightmare. What is worse it the Finance Minister’s day of presenting the Union Budget is testing, long and literally backbreaking.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley while presenting his Budget for 2016-17 may end up creating history of sorts. Mr Jaitley, in the middle of his 2014-15 Budget speech, had asked for a 5-minute break. A break in a Budget speech was never seen before. Later, it was known that he was not well. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had allowed him to sit and present the rest of the Budget.

This time, Mr Jaitley is prepared to reduce his ‘work load’, sources say. A special podium was ordered by the Finance Minister’s office last week. The podium is meant to be placed on the table in front of the finance minister if he needed to place his speech papers to avoid bending while reading.

One will have to wait to find out how long Mr Jaitley takes to finish the speech this time. While presenting the 2015 Budget, he had read out the second longest speech by any Finance Minister. The word count was 16,500 words. Topping the list of longest speeches is Dr Manmohan Singh who delivered an 18,600 words long historic speech in 1999. Backed by then Prime Minister PV Narsimha Rao, Mr Singh had pulled the Indian economy from its worst ever crisis to usher in “liberalisation”.

The third longest budget speech is that of Congress’ ND Tiwari in 1988. The shortest speech ever of 14,700 words was delivered by BJP’s Yashwant Sinha in 2002. Late Morarji Desai holds the record for delivering the maximum number of budget speeches at 10, followed Congress leader P Chdambaram’s 9.

Government sources are tight lipped on whether Mr Jaitley will embellish his speech with poetry like his predecessors or which poet will figure. Mild mannered Dr Manmohan Singh in 1991 had quoted Iqbal. “Yunaan-o-Misr-o-Roma, sab mitt gaye jahaan se, ab tak magar hai baqi, naam-o-nishan hamara (Greece, Egypt, Rome have turned to dust/But India – lives forever).” P. Chidambaram’s favourite has been Tamil saint-poet Thiruvalluvar, whom he has quoted in every budget he has presented since 1996.

It’s going to be a long Monday for Mr Jaitley. He has a customary budget day appointment with President Pranab Mukherjee at 9 am followed by the Union Cabinet meet at 10 am. After a photo opportunity at his Finance Ministry office, he has to reach the steps leading to the Lok Sabha and pose with the traditional “leather briefcase” with Budget papers well before 11 am.

Immediately after Mr Jaitley presents the budget in both the Houses, he has a budget interview with state-owned DOORDARSHAN and the All India Radio at the Lok Sabha TV studios at 1 pm.

Then by 3 pm, he has to be at the National Media Centre for a press conference which is a grueling 90-minute session at the minimum. He is then expected to return to his office and after some paperwork, reach the Talkatora stadium for a “Budget Talkathon”. Sources say celebrated adman Piyush Pandey may host the “Talkathon” who will put questions received through social media to the Finance Minister.

For Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, A Special Podium And Other Budget Plans – NDTV}