New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman became Friday only the second woman in the history of independent India to present the Union Budget. Sitharaman, 59, presented the Modi 2.0 government’s maiden budget in the Lok Sabha.
Prior to the presentation, the Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the Budget for 2019-20. She handed over a copy of the budget to President Ram Nath Kovind before her maiden budget speech.
Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was the first and only woman till now to have presented the Union Budget. In 1970, she presented the Union Budget of India for 1970-71, after she took over the finance portfolio following the resignation of Morarji Desai as Finance Minister.
Indira held the portfolio for a year before appointing her Home Minister, Yashwantrao Chavan, as Finance Minister. It should be stated here that Desai holds the distinction of presenting the most number of budgets – 10.
Prior to Sitharaman, six Finance Ministers: Manmohan Singh (1991-1996), Yashwant Sinha (1998-2003), Jaswant Singh (2003-2004), P Chidambaram (1996-1998, 2004-2009, 2013-2014), Pranab Mukherjee (2009-2013), and Arun Jaitley (2014-2019) had presented 28 budgets.
In the post-liberalisation era, Chidambaram presented the most number of budgets at eight. Manmohan Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Jaitley presented five budgets each while Pranab Mukherjee presented four. Jaswant Singh presented only one budget.
Jaitley presented all the five Budgets of the Modi government’s first tenure but missed out on presenting the interim budget in February this year due to ill-health. Stand-in finance minister Piyush Goyal presented the pre-general election interim budget on February 1 this year.
Sitharaman was also the second woman Defence Minister after Indira Gandhi who held the portfolio till 1982. However, unlike Indira, she was the first full-time woman Defence Minister.