The Election Commission has asked for the Centre’s response to Opposition parties’ demand to present the Union Budget after Assembly elections in five states, The Indian Express reported on Saturday. The poll panel has reportedly written to Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha seeking a reply from the government by January 10.
On the same day, an official notification was released announcing January 31 as the date for commencement of the Budget session, reported PTI. The Union Budget will be presented on February 1, it said. President Pranab Mukherjee has summoned the Rajya Sabha to meet on January 31, the notice said.
On Friday, leaders of the Congress party, the Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam met Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi to put forward their concerns. However, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the demand to postpone the Budget session was “anti-people”. He said the Union Budget was not about any particular state, but the whole country. The ruling party had said the dates cannot be postponed as “every year, some election or the other takes place”.
The Union Budget is usually presented in the third week of February. On December 27, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the Budget Session was being advanced so that “expenditure to various sectors is authorised by the time the new financial year begins”.
Five states – Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Goa, Punjab and Uttarakhand – will have Assembly polls starting February 4. The elections will continue till March 8, and the counting of votes will take place on March 11.
Opposition parties want the Centre to hold the Budget session after March 8. They have held that advancement of the session would influence the state elections in favour of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. They had written to the President and the EC about the same.