The Election Commission of India (ECI) has sought Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha’s reply on the plea of Opposition parties seeking postponement of the budget presentation date.
The Election Commission of India led by CEC Nasim Zaidi has asked that the government respond to the Opposition’s demands that the Budget session be postponed in view of the upcoming Assembly elections. Making the demand the Election Commission has written to Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha.
According to media reports, the ECI has written a letter to Sinha on the issue and has asked him to respond to the plea by January 10. The ECI is believed to have asked the Centre to explain why it wants to advance the budget session for it to take an informed decision on the matter.
Speaking to media in New Delhi on Saturday, Minister of State for Finance Santosh Kumar Gangwar said that election Commission understands the Budget making process and has declared the dates after assessing the situation.
“Union Budget making or passing it has nothing to do with Elections. ECI understands this. We are making it systematic so that after Mar 31 work can be done according to the new budget,” said MoS Finance.
The Budget session of the Parliament will begin from February 1 if the government has its way.
The session is being advanced as the government wants an early allocation of funds for various schemes– from April 1, the beginning of the financial year.
Opposition leaders from the Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC), DMK, Janata Dal (United) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) visited the Election Commission Thursday to protest the Union Budget date, as it was being announced before the Assembly elections in five states.
The Opposition requested the EC to ensure that the Budget is held after polls in five states – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur – conclude on March 8.
“Populist measures could be taken in the Budget, so a just and fair election cannot be held. We demand that the Budget be presented after March 8, which is when polling for elections will be over,”Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad said after meeting EC officials.
The Election Commission on Wednesday announced seven-phase polling for 403 assembly constituencies in the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, two-phase polling in Manipur and one-phase polling each in the states of Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa respectively.
Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said that the counting of votes in all the five states will take place on March 11.