EC asks Centre which procedure followed for delayed Budget in 2012

Election Commission (EC)

The Election Commission has asked the Centre about the procedure followed by the government of the day when presentation of the Union Budget in 2012 was delayed, sources said.

The EC, the sources said, has sought the Cabinet Secretariat’s response by Friday morning.

Instead of the usual February 28, the 2017-18 Budget is scheduled to be presented on February 1, only a few days before assembly elections kick off in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur from February 4 and go on till March 8.

In a letter written on Wednesday to the Cabinet Secretariat, the poll panel sought more details on the budgetary procedure, including for its preparation and presentation in Parliament.

Contending that the presentation of the Union Budget ahead of the assembly elections in five states will give an “unfair advantage” to the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies, seven opposition parties had on January 5 approached the Election Commission to demand its deferment till after March 8.

A delegation comprising leaders of the Congress, Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal-United, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the DMK had approached the Election Commission.

In 2012 — when the BJP was in the opposition — it and other opposition parties had objected to the Budget presentation during the assembly elections.

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had then deferred the Union Budget presentation from February 28 to March 16.

However, the present government, in its earlier response on January 10, is learnt to have described the Union Budget as an exercise covering the entire country and not just a few states.

It said Budget presentation this year was advanced to ensure that budgetary provisions are allocated to different sectors in the very beginning of the new fiscal year on April 1.