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Opposition parties meet Election Commission, demand postponement of Union Budget

The war of words between the government and opposition parties over presentation of General Budget ahead of assembly polls in five states is set to escalate.
India TV Politics Desk New Delhi January 05, 2017 12:31 IST
India TV Politics Desk

The war of words between the government and opposition parties over presentation of General Budget ahead of assembly polls in five states is set to escalate.  

Several opposition parties including Congress, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, BSP, JD(U), RJD today met the Election Commission officials here and presented their views on the matter.

Parties have alleged that presentation of the Budget ahead of the polls is violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

They have said that the ruling BJP at the Centre may announce various schemes to woo voters of the all five states (Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur) that will go to polls, stating February 4.

"Populist measures could be taken in budget, so a just and fair election can't be held. We demand that budget be presented after March 8, which is when polling for elections will be over," Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters outside the EC office.

"This not only gives an unfair advantage to the government to influence the voters, but, in fact, is a violation of Model Code of Conduct," Janata Dal (United) leader KC Tyagi said.

The high-stakes assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh will be held in seven phases between February 11 and March 8, while Punjab and Goa will go to polls together on February 4, Uttarakhand on February 15 and Manipur in two phases on March 4 and 8, with counting to be held on March 11.

Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said that the ‘government will misuse the opportunity and will try to allure the voters’.

“This gives unfair advantage to the government. It will influence the voters. It is clear that the government will misuse the budget presentation and the President’s Address to both the houses of parliament which is customary to make announcements, popular schemes, and also try to allure the voters,” Sharma said.

Sharma also informed that opposition parties in unison have already written to President Pranab Mukherjee and the Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi.

“We have jointly represented to the Rashtrapatiji that pre-polling of the presentation of budget should not be allowed. Opposition parties have also written to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and communication has been sent to the representation, to the Election Commission as a whole,” he said.

“It is important that the request of the opposition is accepted and the presentation of the budget is delayed until the polling in all the states is over,” he added.

The opposition parties have been demanding postponement of general Budget which is slated to be tabled in the Parliament on 1 February, just three days before five states Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur) goes to polls.

The Chief Election Commissioner had yesterday said that election officials were already examining the representation of various political parties for not allowing the presentation of the Union Budget during the poll process of five states and will take a call on it soon.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has made it clear the government was not mulling to postpone the Budget Session as the Budget is a ‘constitutional requirement’.

"Presenting the budget is a constitutional requirement," Jaitley had told reports last evening.

The government has decided to advance the Budget Session of Parliament to the last week of January as it wants early allocation of funds for various schemes-- from April 1, the beginning of the financial year. The first part of the Budget Session will commence on January 31 with Presidential Address and Economic Survey. The Budget for next fiscal will be tabled on February 1.

The Budget Session is normally convened in the last week of February but this year the government has convened the longest session of Parliament in the last week of January.