Leading the Opposition chorus against the government’s decision to present the Union Budget on February 1, just three days before Punjab and Goa go to assembly polls and 10 days before the first phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh, Congress leaders are set to meet Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi at 11 am, Thursday to demand that the Budget be presented only after the elections.
The Congress move came on a day NDA constituent Shiv Sena sprang a surprise and came out in support of the Opposition demand. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray urged President Pranab Mukherjee not to allow presentation of the Budget before the five states vote.
WATCH VIDEO | Opposition Leaders Demand Budget Presentation After March 8
The Sena leader asked his party MPs to meet the President and request him to postpone the Budget. “By making attractive announcements in the Budget, the government can grab votes indirectly,” Thackeray said.
BSP chief Mayawati too hit out at the government move. Stating that the Budget can influence voters, she asked the Election Commission to instruct the government to present the Budget after March 8, the last date of polling in UP.
The Chief Election Commissioner, while announcing the election schedule Wednesday, said the panel will examine the joint representation sent by Opposition parties.
“The Commission has received one representation sent by some political parties. This representation is with regard to presentation of the Budget. The Commission is examining this representation and, in due course of time, will take a call,” Zaidi said.
Sources in Election Commission said the panel was not consulted by the government on rescheduling the Budget session. “We have received no formal communication on this, either recently or in the past from the government,” an EC official said.
Sources said Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad will lead the Congress delegation to the poll panel Thursday. It was Azad who had earlier written to the President and the CEC on behalf of several Opposition parties, questioning the decision to advance the Budget presentation.
“Advancing the presentation of the Budget gives an unfair advantage to the ruling party to influence voters by announcing populist schemes, thereby undermining free and fair election. Therefore, it is our considered view that the presentation of the Budget, instead of being advanced, should be postponed to only after the assembly elections,” Azad said in the letter.