Union Budget just before elections can be used to appease voters, Opposition parties tell EC

Noting that the Union Budget is too close to polling dates for the five states, a united Opposition met with Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi on Thursday to urge the election body to postpone the presentation of the Union Budget until the elections are over.

"Over a dozen parties are meeting the Chief Election Commissioner to raise our objections regarding the Union Budget slated to be presented just three days before the assembly polls are to start. 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 before the meeting with the poll panel.

After the meeting, senior Congress member and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said that the Congress-led UPA government had agreed to the Opposition's demand of postponing the 2012 Union Budget, from 29 February to 16 March that year.

The Election Commission of India announced polling dates in five states — Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Punjab — on Wednesday. The Narendra Modi government's decision to advance the date to present the Union Budget on 1 February ran into trouble as polling in the five states begins just three days post the Budget.

Even Shiv Sena, BJP's ally at the Centre and in Maharashtra, cautioned the BJP-led central government that it would be accused of appeasing voters if the Union Budget is held prior to the crucial five state Assembly elections. The Opposition parties alleged that the Narendra Modi government will misuse the Union Budget to influence voters in the poll bound states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur.

Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma was quoted by The New Indian Express as saying, "The Union Budget is clear that the government will misuse the budget presentation and the President’s Address to both the houses of parliament to try allure the voters.”

Meanwhile, the government dismissed any probability of postponing the budget session, which begins on 31 January, CNN-News18 reported.

The BJP, added that advancing the the date for the Union Budget was a non-issue and slammed the Opposition for politicising the government's Constitutional duty.

"The budget is a Constitutional duty of the government and not related to any one state. The presentation of the budget is not a sudden decision, rather it has been decided beforehand with prior information to the stake holders," said Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. He also said, "The opposition parties have gone bankrupt on issues that is why they are trying to create an issue from a non-issue. The government has decided 1 February for the budget presentation and irrespective of what the opposition says, it will be presented."

The Election Commission on Wednesday had added that it had received a request to postpone the budget date and would be taking a call on it soon.


With inputs from IANS

For full coverage of Union Budget 2017 click here.

Updated Date: Jan 13, 2017 20:18 PM

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