Rare Occurrence of Humour in Indian Budget Speeches


As the newly formed government presents its first budget, which will most likely be a lengthy speech (unpopular with most and criticized by many) filled with data, statistics and numbers , many news websites are trying to present it as it happens. Exhibit A. Exhibit B.  However, we’re in no hurry and take it easy by going back and unearthing some of the rare occasions when humour found its way in the union budget speeches.

Mamata Banerjee (2010)


Mamata Banerjee’s Railway Budget speech in 2010 had its lighter moments when she was repeatedly taunted by the Opposition. The mercurial Mamata shot back at MPs several times. And often, her remarks left the members amused.

“If you don’t listen (to my speech), I will cut (out the sops for your state),” Mamata angrily told an MP who was interrupting her speech.

The remark had Lok Sabha MPs drooling with laughter, which in turn brought a smile to the minister’s face as well.

Lalu Prasad Yadav (2008-09)

Lalu Prasad’s attempt at translating his speech from Hindi to English was enjoyed by everyone in the house, including the speaker.

In an attempt to promote local companies at railway stations instead of foreign companies, in 2004, Lalu targeted A H Wheeler & Sons when he said “Angrez  chale  gaye, Wheeler  reh  gaye”

Manmohan Singh (1991)

Manmohan Singh

Singh, normally a reserved person, is known to garnish his budget speeches with humour. In those days, he was accused by the Left of bowing to pressure from the World Bank. For a particular budget proposal he said dead-pan: “I am doing this under pressure from WB and WB is not World Bank but West Bengal”. On the northeastern states, he said: “This is in gratitude to the East for providing a home to a homeless Finance Minister”.

In 1992, Manmohan Singh criticized the strategies adopted by many people to avoid paying taxes when he said, “It is said that child is the father of the man, but some of our taxpayers have converted children into tax shelters for their fathers.”

Rajiv Gandhi (1987)

Rajiv Gandhi

Cigarettes evoked a light moment in Rajiv Gandhi’s only budget speech. “In looking for more revenue, I have to fall back on the ever dependable and reliable friend of Finance Ministers and the certified enemy of Health Ministers.”

Bonus Read: Fin Mins quoting various poets in the budget speeches