Opposition parties came together on Wednesday to voice their protest against the Union Budget being advanced to February 1, after the Election Commission announced Assembly election dates for five states – Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Goa. In a joint letter to the President and the Chief Election Commissioner, several parties, including the Congress, Samajwadi Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said the move would influence the state elections in favour of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, reported The Indian Express. Assembly polls in the states will start on February 4 with Goa and Punjab, and end on March 8, the last phase of the seven-phase election in Uttar Pradesh.

The Bahujan Samaj Party also urged the Centre to refrain from presenting the Union Budget on February 1, three weeks before it is usually tabled in Parliament. “In favour of clean and fair elections we urge the central government to not present the budget on February 1,” the Uttar Pradesh party said. The EC said they were reviewing the concerns put forward by the political parties, and would decide on it soon.

The Aam Aadmi Party said the Union Budget should not be presented right before the state elections as that would violate the model code of conduct principles, reported The Times of India. The party is contesting polls in Goa and Punjab – both states will have their elections on February 4. Moreover, the Arvind Kejriwal-led party had also urged the EC not to set the same date for elections in the two states. However, after announcing the dates, the EC said the dates were decided taking into account all the stakeholders’ concerns.

The protests from Opposition parties came after the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs on Wednesday approved the Centre’s proposal to start the Budget Session on January 31. The Economic Survey will be tabled on that day, followed by the Union Budget, which will be presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on the next day – February 1.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that various sectors would have their required funds at the beginning of the next financial year if Parliament’s Budget Session was advanced to February 1. “The date of the budget presentation is being advanced so that expenditure is authorised by the time the new financial year begins,” he had said.