Opposition calls for postponing budget till after elections, Jaitley says its constitutional requirement
Hours after the dates for the assembly elections in the five crucial states were announced, political parties including the Congress, Shiv Sena and AAP have demanded that the budget be postponed till after the voting has completed.
The budget will be presented on February 1, whereas the voting process of the assembly elections will start from February 4.
The protest from the opposition parties came earlier today, after the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs approved Centre’s proposal to start the Budget Session on January 31 and present it on February 1.
The parties have called for postponing the budgetary process to ensure the BJP-led government does not have any unfair advantage.
“A delegation of Shiv Sena MPs will meet the President of India for this soon. We feel that ruling Bharatiya Janata Party may try to manipulate and mislead people in the union budget,” said Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray.
While addressing a meeting of district party leaders earlier today, Thackeray also questioned why the union budget should be announced when the dates for the assembly elections in Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh were announced by the Election Commission.
Congress, Samajwadi Party and the Communist Party of India have also called for delaying the budget over similar concerns. Aam Aadmi Party, meanwhile, has said that presenting the budget before the state elections would violate the model code of conduct principles.
Even as Dr Nasim Zaidi, who heads the Election Commission, is reviewing the request to avoid the budget and election clash, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said that there are no plans of delaying the budget.
“Even in 2014, the budget was presented before the polls,” he said, adding that presenting the budget is a constitutional requirement.
GVL Narasimha Rao, spokesperson for the BJP, also defended the move claiming that the country’s budget cannot be delayed because of elections in some states.
“The government cannot come to a standstill because some states are going to polls. Every year, some election or the other takes place,” said Rao.
There is one instance in the recent past, in 2012, when the budget had been postponed to mid-March to avoid a clash with the state assembly polls.