Several opposition parties yesterday urged the Election Commission to ask the government to postpone the Union Budget until after assembly elections in five states.
The budget is likely to be unveiled on February 1, while the staggered polls in the five states are to be held between February 4 and March 8.
A delegation of opposition parties comprising the Congress, Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal-United, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam met Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and demanded that the budget be presented only after March 8.
“We told them that allowing the budget ahead of the polls gives an unfair advantage to the government and how the exercise can be used to influence the voters,” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters.
The EC gave the opposition a patient hearing, he added.
The budget is 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 ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, slammed the opposition over their demand.
“The budget is a constitutional duty and not related to any one state. The presentation of the budget is not a sudden decision,” said 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,” he added.
BJP 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 that the 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”.
lThe Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) snapped its alliance with the ruling BJP in Goa yesterday.
MGP president Deepak Dhavalikar said his party would contest 22 of the 40 assembly seats and soon formalise an alliance with rebel RSS leader Subhash Velingkar’s outfit.
Dhavalikar released to the media a letter written to Goa Governor Mridula Sinha announcing the snapping of ties with the BJP.
“After the election results, a BJP-MGP government took charge of the administration and we continued our co-operation in spite of differences on various issues which recently led to the ouster of MGP MLAs from the cabinet,” Dhavalikar said in his letter, which was also submitted to Goa assembly Speaker Anant Shet.
He said now that the Goa election had been announced for February 4, the MGP had decided not to continue its alliance with the BJP.
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