New Delhi: The ministry of finance has embarked on a new outreach strategy to communicate its message on the budget to be presented on 29 February—a departure from the tight-lipped stance the government adopts in the run-up to the annual exercise.

Over the last few days, it has selectively showcased interviews with key officials, conducted by official broadcaster Doordarshan News, sharing nuggets on budget-making and an occasional hint on the contents.

This outreach comes at a time when political differences between the government and the opposition have disrupted the usual build-up that precedes the presentation of the Union budget.

“The idea is to spread awareness about the budget-making process as well as highlight the steps taken by the government over the past one year to fulfil the announcements made in last year’s budget," said finance ministry spokesperson D.S. Malik.

On Monday, the ministry put up a budget promo by Jayant Sinha, minister of state for finance, in which he set out the four pillars of the upcoming budget.

“We are working very hard in the finance ministry to prepare a budget that will eradicate poverty in India, provide prosperity to our farmers, help in massive job creation for the young people of this country and provide a better quality of life to all Indian citizens. This budget will be a forward-looking budget that will ensure India will be a haven of stability and growth in a very turbulent and choppy global environment," he said.

All of these interviews are being uploaded on the official YouTube channel of the ministry of finance, launched earlier this month

Key bureaucrats including finance secretary Ratan Watal, revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia and economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das have given elaborate interviews to the official broadcaster DD News over the past week, detailing the key priorities of the government, the budget-making process, their assessment of the global economy and government finances and the steps that each department is taking to fulfil the promises made by the Narendra Modi government.

Typically, during the run-up to the budget, key officials keep their media interaction to a minimum and that too restricted to attending a few public conferences.

The government has made a departure from the usual practice of reserving press interactions to the post-budget period, said Sevanti Ninan, a media critic, author and editor of the media watch website thehoot.org.

“It’s almost trying to script what the coverage should be," she added. “They are in a sense making a pitch for their performance and promises made. Unusual for a government which has otherwise been restricting interactions with the media."

The Union budget, to be presented on 29 February, is the third budget of the National Democratic Alliance government. While presenting the budget, finance minister Arun Jaitley will have to look for ways to revive investment and boost rural demand while keeping in mind the fiscal constraints.

Vidhi Choudhary contributed to this story.

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