Opposition protest budget before polls, EC examining apprehensions (Roundup)

New Delhi, Jan 4 (IANS) With opposition parties demanding to postponing the presentation of the Union Budget during the poll process for five states, the Election Commission of India said on Wednesday that it is examining the matter 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,” Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi told reporters here.

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 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. We are clear that the budget has to be postponed, you can take the vote in account, and have the budget presented after the final election day is over,” Congress spokesperson Ajoy Kumar told reporters here.

“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 Bharatiya Janata Party may 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 – Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh – were announced by the Election Commission earlier on Wednesday.

Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party said it will be wrong to present Budget just three days before polling in five states.

“It gives undue advantage to the BJP as their government is at the centre. Election is all about level playing field. It is now upto the Election Commission. It should take cognisance and issue appropriate instructions,” AAP spokesperson Ashutosh told IANS.

Another AAP leader Deepak Bajpai said : “It’s EC responsibilty to provide level playing field to all political parties. Announcing the Union Budget just three days before elction is bound to effect electorate.”

Asked if AAP would approach EC, Bajpai said, “We will explore all options available to us.”