The Election Commission of India on Monday granted the Centre permission to present the Annual Budget on February 1, but on two conditions – it should not announce schemes specific to any of the five poll-bound states in particular, and neither should the government mention any of its achievements in these states in the Budget speech.
The polling monitor further directed the governments of the five poll-bound states – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur – to adhere to norms and not announce a full-fledged state Budget, The Indian Express reported.
The direction from the Election Commission came the same day the Supreme Court dismissed a petition demanding that the Union Budget be postponed and presented after the Assembly elections. “There is no illustration to support that presenting the Union Budget before the polls will influence voters,” the court ruled.
On January 6, the Supreme Court had rejected an appeal for an urgent hearing of a petition seeking to have the Budget Session postponed. Opposition parties had made the same appeal to the Election Commission, saying presenting the Budget before the elections would give the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party an unfair advantage.
Following Monday’s Supreme Court verdict, the Centre scheduled an all-party meeting for January 30 to discuss the Budget Session. While Parliament’s Budget Session begins on January 31, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is expected to present the Annual Budget on February 1. The Assembly Elections will be held from February 4 to March 8, and the votes will be counted on March 11.