Opposition unrelenting in attack on govt over Budget presentation

Opposition unrelenting in attack on govt over Budget presentation

Opposition today remained unrelenting in its attack on the Narendra Modi government over its plans to present the Union Budget on February 1, three days prior to the start of voting in assembly elections in five states.

The principal Opposition party said the budget is traditionally presented on February 28 since independence but the Modi government wants to present it during the time of elections.

Party spokesperson Ajoy Kumar said it is a convention that when an assembly election is scheduled, the Centre presents a vote-on-account and presents a full-fledged budget later.

He recalled that the BJP had raised objections in 2012 on the same count and the then UPA government had only presented a vote-on-account.

"Fearing defeat and leaving aside the good traditions of Parliament, Prime Minister Modi wants to present the budget in the poll atmosphere. The public knows it all and Prime Minister will not be successful in his plans," he said.

The Congress leader accused Modi of presenting a "mini-budget" two days ahead of the poll schedule announcement and making some lofty announcements in a bid to lure voters.

"There is something called budgetary secrecy. Issues with financial implications are usually presented by the Finance Minister," he said.

Another spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil said the Congress and 15 other parties have also written to the President on the "ill-timed decision" of the Modi government to advance the date for budget presentation.

"The poor decisions and mis-governance have left the Prime Minister shaken and clueless. Like the drowning man in the ocean, Prime Minister Modi made announcements three days before the election dates came out. As a result of his mis-governance, Modi will not receive the support of the people in these elections," he said.

Gohil added that the announcements made by the Prime Minister were "too hollow" as he was trying to "mislead" the people of the country with announcements that are already in place since long.

He said the reality is that the Rabi Season's crop finance, by and large has not been given or received yet and the Prime Minister's 60 days interest for the Rabi crop will be waived for farmers does not mean much.

The Election Commission is already examining the representation of various political parties for not allowing the presentation of the Union Budget during the poll process of five states and will take a call on it soon.

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad also wrote a letter to the CEC in which he said, "It is a collective and serious concern of the Opposition parties that advancing the presentation of budget to February 1 will provide an opportunity to the government to make populist announcements to influence voters.

"This will not only give unfair advantage to the ruling party but will also undermine the process of free and fair elections. It is therefore demanded that in view of the forthcoming elections and the precedent of 2012, the advancement of the presentation of the budget should not be allowed," he said.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, whose AAP is fancying chances of clinching power in Punjab and Goa, claimed the situation in the two states, where the BJP is in power or sharing it, is "bad" and people want to bring in an "honest" government led by his party in the upcoming polls.

"Both in Punjab and Goa, the situation is bad. In Punjab, people want to throw the BJP coalition government and bring in an honest AAP government so that they get freed from drugs and corruption," he said.

Sanjay Raut, an MP from NDA constituent Shiv Sena, said poll preparations of the saffron party are "complete", particularly in northern states and BJP-ruled Goa.

"Shiv Sena is holding an important meeting chaired by party president Uddhav Thackeray where such issues will be discussed. Our preparations are complete for the polls," he said.

Naresh Agrawal, who was recently expelled by Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh in the midst of feud within the ruling party of Uttar Pradesh, insisted the EC to see the budget session announced by the central government be postponed to ensure that the voters do not get influenced.

"The manner in which the budget session has been convened in between the polls, we will urge the Election Commission to get it postponed, the way 2012 budget session was postponed, to ensure free and fair poll," Agarwal said.

Targeting the BJP and Samajwadi Party, BSP leader Sudhindra Bhadoria said both the parties have caused "harassment" to people through goonda raj and demonetisation respectively and that the Mayawati-led party was "eagerly" waiting for announcement of dates to take on them.

Meanwhile, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh hailed the EC's decision to hold elections in the state in one go, a move, which he said, was in line with a request his party had made to the EC to ensure proper law and order situation during polls period there.

"This is good, we will beat both the Akali-BJP coalition and the AAP and they will know where Punjab is standing," he added. Congress' Chief Ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh, Sheila Dikshit, too said the party will go for a time-bound programme in the politically crucial state and "will contest to win".

BJP leader from Uttarakhand, Vijay Bahuguna, said people from the hill state were "awaiting" to throw the "corrupt and anti-people" Congress government, led by Harish Rawat. He said the party will bank on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's canvassing to gain power.

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