The Election Commission today announced the dates for five state Assembly elections, including Uttar Pradesh, from February 4 to March 8, with counting of votes to be held on March 11.
The announcement has raised a big question by the Opposition and even a ruling alliance partner at the Centre: Should the government go ahead with its February 1 presentation of the Union Budget?
Almost every major party, except the BJP, stand for a resounding no. They have questioned why should the Budget be announced when the dates for the elections to five state Assemblies – Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh – have been announced.
The first half of the Budget session is scheduled to be held from January 31 to February 9, with the presentation of the Budget by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley planned on February 1 – an advancement by a month from the conventional date of March 1.
As many as 16 parties have written to President Pranab Mukherjee and Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi, arguing that the government’s move to advance the Union Budget is an attempt to influence the voters.
Opposition parties point toward the year 2012 when the first half of Budget session was postponed to the month of March in view of Assembly polls in five states.
Here is what they have to say:
Shiv Sena: Party chief Uddhav Thackeray has demanded that the Narendra Modi government should postpone the upcoming Union Budget till the state elections are completed.
“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,” Thackeray said.
Congress: “There is a precedent wherein the Union Budget was presented much after the polling and counting was over in the five states. The next Budget may carry sops which may influence voters. Budget needs to be postponed,” former Union Minister and senior Congress leader Manish Tewari said.
Bahujan Samaj Party: “In favour of clean and fair elections, we urge the central government to not present the Budget on 1 February,” the BSP said today.
Samajwadi Party: Senior SP leader Naresh Agrawal urged the Election Commission to see that the Budget session of Parliament announced by the central government be postponed to ensure that the voters do not get influenced.