Opposition parties, mainly led by the Congress, today met the Election Commission today pressing against holding Budget ahead of the assembly polls in five states. They contend that sops could be announced by the government in its annual budget, which may influence the voters.
“We said that to ensure fair elections, the budget must be deferred to after the election results on March 11,” senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told the press after the meeting.
“The simple solution is to present the budget after March 8 and get it passed before March 31,” TMC leader Derek O’Brien said.
The Election Commission is 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.
The Central government had announced the budget session will begin from January 31 and the General Budget is slated to be announced on February 1.
On Wednesday, the ECI announced dates for the elections and the related process. The polling in five states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa will be held from February 4 till March 8.
Fielding the query over the representation submitted by the Opposition parties, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said “The Commission has received one representation sent by some political parties… The Commission is examining this representation and in due course of time will take a call on this”.
However, the Centre defended its move and asked why are the opponents afraid of it when they also claim demonetisation is an unpopular decision.
“These are those political parties which say that popularity of demonetisation is very low. So, why they are afraid of the Budget,” Jaitley told reporters yesterday.
With a view to start spending on welfare and other scheme right from Day 1 of the fiscal year, the government has shed long-standing tradition of presenting the Budget on the last day of February.
Political parties including Congress, Left, TMC, Samajwadi Party and BSP have voiced reservation against the move as they feel budget may be used to announce sops to influence voters.