January 4, 2017 9:47:13 pm
The announcement of a poll schedule for five states was today welcomed by all political parties but those opposed to BJP raised objections to the planned Union Budget presentation on February 1, saying it was meant to woo voters for BJP with sops. While the Election Commission said it will examine a representation made by parties opposing the February 1 Budget plan, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley defended the move asking why Opposition parties are afraid of it when they have claimed that demonetisation is an unpopular decision. For the record, all the parties claimed they would do well in the elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.
Parties including Congress, Left, SP and BSP have written to the Election Commission and the President opposing the advancing of the budget presentation to February 1 before the polls. The parties say that this would give an unfair advantage to BJP and its allies as the Centre could announce sops to influence voters. “It is a collective and serious concern of the Opposition parties that advancing the presentation of budget to February 1 will provide an opportunity to the government to make populist announcements to influence voters.
“This will not only give unfair advantage to the ruling party but will also undermine the process of free and fair elections. It is therefore demanded that in view of the forthcoming elections and the precedent of 2012, the advancement of the presentation of the budget should not be allowed,” Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said in a letter to Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi.
The CEC said the Commission is examining the representation of parties for not allowing the presentation of the Union Budget during the poll process and will take a call on it soon. “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,” he told reporters when asked about the issue.
Reacting to the Opposition demand, Jaitley said, “These are those political parties which say that popularity of demonetisation is very low. So why they are afraid of the Budget.” When asked about the presentation of the budget in March 2012 after the elections, including in Uttar Pradesh, he said “This is not a tradition (for following) everytime.” “Interim budget is presented just before Lok Sabha elections. No one has stopped that. Even in 2014, interim budget was presented some days before the general elections. This is a constitutional necessity,” he said.
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