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Amid poll code, Budget may still roll out pro-people schemes

Opposition parties like Samajwadi Party and AAP have raised questions over the timing of the budget.

india Updated: Jan 05, 2017 14:14 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Union budget 2017,Arun Jaitley,Model code of conduct
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, finance secretary Ashok Lavasa and economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das at a pre-budget meeting with social sector groups, in New Delhi on November 26, 2016.(PTI)

The model code of conduct might have kicked in, but the NDA government still retains a leeway to present pro-people sops in its upcoming general budget, experts say.

The presentation of budget in the middle of the polls has already raised questions, the EC revealed on Wednesday. The chief election commissioner Nasim Zaidi said, “The Commission has received one representation with regard to presentation of budget; we are examining it and will take call on it in due course.”

An EC source told HT, “The government while announcing the budget cannot make any announcements that are specific to the poll-bound states. If there are new projects or allocation related to those states, those will have to be announced later.”

Read | Some income tax relief likely in upcoming budget

Opposition parties like Samajwadi Party and AAP have raised questions over the timing of the budget. SP MP Naresh Agarwal has demanded that the budget should be deferred and AAP spokesperson Ashutosh tweeted, “It will be wrong to present Budget just three days before polling in Goa and Punjab.EC should take cognisance/issue appropriate instructions.”

Former secretary general of Lok Sabha S Sreedharan told HT, “The Budget is a constitutional compulsion. It is only a matter of morality and propriety whether they take the Election Commission’s permission before announcing the budget proposals.”

Former parliamentary affairs secretary Afzal Amanullah said, “The standard practice is that no such announcements should be made which may affect the poll results. And there can’t be any announcements specific to the poll-bound states.”

Read | As political parties cry foul, Jaitley defends Budget presentation before polls

In 2012, the then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had presented his budget on March 16, after the polling was over for the states.

Zaidi also defended the EC’s timing of declaring polls against the criticism that the announcement was deliberately delayed to accommodate Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation on the eve of the New Year.

“The charge is in realm of conjecture. EC has its own mind and an autonomous institution. It has always behaved independently. This time too, EC kept no stones unturned to prepare. In any preparation, looses ends have to be tied up. Political parties requested to hold polls after Christmas and the New Year. Only last evening, we concluded that we can go ahead,” Zaidi said.

First Published: Jan 05, 2017 06:59 IST