Postponement of budget: EC seeks Centre's response

Several opposition parties, including Congress, Trinamool Congress, DMK and JD (U), have met EC officials to demand that the Budget be presented after the elections conclude.

The Election Commission has sought a response from the government to the opposition's demand to postpone the Budget session until after March 8 - the final date of polling in Uttar Pradesh.

They said the model of conduct restricted the government from making any announcements related to poll-bound states.

There are considerable expectations from this year's budget, which comes in the backdrop of the demonetisation exercise-the first-round shocks of which are impacting the economy-and also ahead of crucial assembly elections to five state assemblies, including Uttar Pradesh.

According to reports, BJP has said the demand for postponement of the Budget by the Opposition is an attempt to politicalise the government's constitutional duties.

"There can be no concession to any political party, this is against the constitution and the ideal of democracy".

Notwithstanding the vociferous protests by the opposition parties, government has chose to stick to advancing of the budget session and convene it from January 31, a day before the Union Budget is likely to be presented.

As per the ECI sources, this has been done by the Election Commission as per normal procedure.

"The simple solution is to present the budget after March 8, the last day of voting, and get it passed before March 31". According to a BJP source, every year, some election or the other keeps on taking place, but that should not affect the presentation of the Budget, which is meant for the entire country.

The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs had recommended that the Budget session commence on January 31 and the Budget be presented the next day so that new financial provisions come into force from April 1.

As the government has already announced scrapping the separate railway budget presentation, the railway estimates will be part of the union budget.

  • Eleanor Harrison