From P Chidambaram to Arun Jaitely , all FMs have been seen carrying a briefcase with them right before entering Parliament to announce a year’s budget. In fact, the tradition of carrying briefcases has been observed since 1947.
The briefcase is a result of a colonial legacy; a designed leather box, known as the “Budget Box” was presented to William Ewart Gladstone (Finance Minister) by the Queen. The same ‘Budget Box’ has been presented to UKs successive ministers since 1860.
However, the tradition of passing on budget boxes has not been a tradition in India. RK Shanmukham Chetty, the man responsible for presenting independent India’s first budget speech in 1947, carried a briefcase along with him.
To keep the legacy alive, the succeeding finance ministers have continued to follow Chetty’s footsteps. Over the years, the shape of the bag has been consistent, even though the successive finance ministers have experimented with the different colours. So it becomes a ritual for the successive finance ministers to carry the leather suitcase to the budget speech.