Opposition meets EC, demands budget after state polls

New Delhi, Jan 5 (IANS) Several opposition parties on Thursday approached the Election Commission seeking the Union Budget be deferred after March 8, until the assembly polls got over in five states.

The Union Budget is scheduled for February 1, while the staggered polls in the five states are scheduled between February 4 and March 8.

A delegation of opposition parties comprising of the Congress, Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal-United, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the DMK met Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and demanded that the Union Budget be presented only after March 8.

“We told them that allowing the budget ahead of the polls gives an unfair advantage to the (BJP) government and how the exercise can be used to influence the voters,” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told the media.

The EC gave the opposition a patient hearing, he added.

The budget is scheduled to be presented on February 1, days before Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur go to the polls to elect their state assemblies on different dates.

Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha member Derek O’Brien hoped that the EC would address their concerns.

“There is enough time to present the budget after March 8. That is the fair way to do it. Not only the EC has to be fair but it has to be seen to be fair. We are optimistic,” said O’Brien.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, slammed the opposition over this.

“The budget is a constitutional duty and not related to any one state. The presentation of the budget is not a sudden decision,” said Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

“The opposition parties have gone bankrupt on issues. That is why they are trying to create an issue of a non-issue. The government has decided February 1 for 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 the budget only reflected the nervousness of the Congress and the Samajwadi Party.

“The budget is a constitutional mandate and has no bearing with elections. Every now and then we have elections… You don’t postpone a budget for that,” Singh added.

The opposition parties earlier submitted a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee and the EC, requesting the Union Budget be deferred.

Zaidi on Wednesday said the EC has received the memorandum and said the poll panel was examining it and would “take a call on it in due course”.

–IANS

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