Budget too close to polls, Opposition knocks Election Commission's door
New Delhi : Opposition parties on Thursday approached the Election Commission (EC) seeking that the Union Budget's presentation be deferred during the poll process for five states.
Led by the Congress, representatives from several opposition parties including the Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal-United, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal reached the poll panel to raise their objections over the budget scheduled to be presented on February 1 just days ahead of the polls in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur scheduled between February 4 and March 8.
"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 K.C. Tyagi said before the meet with the poll panel.
Congress leader Anand Sharma too said the presentation of the budget prior to the polls will vitiate the free and fair polls.
"It is the mandate of the EC to ensure that no situation arises that may vitiate the free and fair polls. We have already informed President Pranab Mukherjee about the issue," said Sharma.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however said it 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
"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 February 1 for the budget presentation and irrespective of what the opposition says, it will be presented," added Naqvi.
BJP national secretary Siddharth Nath Singh said the opposition to budget reflected the Congress' and the Samajwadi Party's nervousness.
"The Congress which is ruling Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh's ruling Samajwadi Party have been opposing the budget because they know they haven't done any work in the five years of their government," he said
"The budget is a constitutional mandate and has no bearing with elections. Every now and then we have polls, be it to the Lok Sabha or assembly or civic bodies or panchayat, you don't postponed a budget for that," Singh added.