Election Commission diktat stops populist proposals

Election  Commission diktat stops populist  proposals
The Election Commission’s (EC) bar on making populist announcements ahead of polls is said to have stopped the government from making major announcements with regard to Railways and other sectors. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his Budget speech, refrained from divulging specific details that may have sounded enticing for voters in the poll-bound states.

For instance, he spoke about commissioning of railway lines, solar powering and upgrading of railway stations, but avoided taking names of the areas where these facilities will be provided, in order to respect the EC guidelines. When asked why the Budget does not have the details of Railway expansions and other specifications, a top finance ministry official, who was involved in the framing of the Budget, said the elections was the reason the details were not made public.

The EC had suggested delaying Budget presentation, as populist announcements ahead of the elections will give an advantage to the BJP, but the government had turned the suggestion down.

The official hinted that reforms in Railways will take place after the state elections. The finance ministry official said that ticket fares may go up after the elections to generate funds. The governments, so far, have been avoiding hiking ticket fares to avoid a backlash from people, he said.

“There was hue and cry after Air India’s fiscal health suffered badly. What about Railways? People should pay for the services they avail,” said the ministry official.
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