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Published On: Thu, Jan 5th, 2017

Stop Budget Before Elections, Opposition Parties to Election Commission

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electioncommission-621x414NEW DELHI : Opposition leaders on Thursday reached the Election Commission to demand postponing the Union Budget presentation just shortly ahead of the assembly polls in five states, fearing its ”misuse by the government.”
The Congress, Trinamool, Samajwadi Party, Mayawati’s BSP, Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United and Lalu Yadav’s RJD are set to meet the Election Commission.
Speaking to reporters, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said, ”This is against the democracy, we have requested the EC to stop the presentation of Union Budget.”  The Election Commission, which said yesterday that it is examining the matter, is expected to take a  call on it after meeting the Opposition leaders.

“The Commission has received one representation sent by some political parties. This representation is with regards to presentation of the budget. The Commission is examining this representation and in due course of time will take a call on this,” Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi told reporters on Wednesday.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, however, said presenting the Budget is a “constitutional requirement”.Without naming anyone, Jaitley said, “These are the same parties which say there has been no positive effect of demonetisation, so why are they are worried about date of budget.”
The Finance Minister said an interim budget was presented even before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and earlier too budgets had been presented ahead of elections.Apart from Congress, the Left parties, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Nationalist Congress Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal-United signed a memorandum submitted to President Pranab Mukherjee and Election Commission on December 14 requesting that the Union Budget must be postponed till assembly elections.

Congress on Wednesday reissued the copy of the memorandum to the media and expressed apprehensions that voters could be influenced through announcements in the Union Budget.“Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad had written to the Election Commission and President on this.
“The norm of any parliamentary democracy is if there is election, you take the vote on account and have it after the election results are out. That has been the tradition. You don’t argue on it or no debate on it,” Kumar added.
Even BJP ally Shiv Sena demanded to postpone Union Budget till polls get over.“A delegation of Shiv Sena MPs will meet the President of India for this soon. We feel that ruling BJPmay try to manipulate and mislead people in the union budget,” Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray said, addressing a meeting of district party leaders, in Mumbai.
He questioned why should the Union Budget be announced when the dates for the elections to five state assemblies  Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party said it will be wrong to present Budget just three days before polling in five states.

In 2012, when the same states were up for election, the budget, usually shared on the last working day in February, was moved to mid-March after voting was completed.
“The Election Commission has a mandate that they should not allow any situation in which the conduct of free and fair elections is subverted,” said Congress leader Anand Sharma.

The ruling BJP, however, says there is no reason to postpone the budget as “every year, some election or the other takes place.””Even in 2014, the budget was presented before the polls,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday.The government decided to advance the date of the general budget to ensure proposals take effect from April 1.
The first part of the budget session of parliament will start on January 31 when the government is expected to present the Economic Survey, which sets the tone for the budget. The cabinet decided last September to merge the railway budget with the annual budget, ending a nearly century-long practice.

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