Should Union Budgets be delayed for State Elections?

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Budget elections

With the Assembly elections for five states being scheduled by Election Commission of India(ECI) starting from February 4th, it turns out to be precisely three days after the Union Budget that is slated to be presented by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on February 1st of this year.

Right after the announcement for State Assembly Elections, the Opposition involving sixteen political parties in no time started crying hoarse that it will give unfair and undue advantage to BJP and its allies. The Opposition was flanked by one of the old ally of BJP and its junior partner in Maharashtra government – Shiva Sena. Surely, BJP needs no foes, when its very old ally is back stabbing. The Opposition parties with no concrete or should I say earth shaking/shattering reason to criticize Modi Government neither for corruption nor for communal violence, are raising as frivolous issue as postponing the Union Budget. The Opposition has already become the object of Public ridicule and it seems like Shiva Sena is a new kid in the block of their company. The chest thumping did not stop there and the entire representation met President Pranab Mukherjee & ECI to advise the Modi Government to advance the Union budget.

The Election Commission of India has already imposed Model Code of Conduct(MCC). It has also advised Central government not to announce any state specific incentives specially for poll bound states. It is keeping a close eye, acting as a watch dog and is vigilant of any such announcements that could very well be advantage BJP & its allies in Assembly elections. The Opposition does not trust the Government. Be it as may. But now, what is evident is, Opposition does not even trust ECI and is questioning its credibility ad-nauseam by camouflaging of putting the blame on Government. The Opposition is in a figment of imagination and do not comprehend that ECI is apolitical autonomous constitutional body. It neither reports to Government of India nor it consults it for scheduling the polls. The history is evident that UPA headed by Congress & its allies have no respect for any autonomous constitutional body be it CAG (Comptroller & Auditor General) or ECI. And about AAP, the less said the better. Remember, the infamous case of Delhi’s constitutionally elected head (AK-47) of self-declaring himself as an anarchist.

The Opposition has already betrayed this nation by holding the Parliament ransom during the Winter session and has ensured that there are no key Bills passed. It has always been a biggest impediment in passing of any major reforms be it GST, Land Reforms or Demonetization despite fully being cognizant of humungous benefits to this nation. Now, they want to stall the presentation of Budget, which is completely a prerogative of Central Government. Why is that the Opposition is in a path of depriving the Government of its very own right? The UPA has seemed to be conveniently forgotten the fact that it had presented an Interim Budget some days before the 2014 General Elections.

The people of India has given a mandate to Prime Minister Modi to govern and announce policies for 5 years from 2014 to 2019.The presentation of Budget is very much within the ambit of law. It is a national event and is independent of influencing the State Assembly elections. If Modi Government really wanted to woo the people in a poll bound states, it would not have waited till Union Budget. It would not have stopped PM Modi to announce any populist schemes or sops, when he addressed the nation on 31 St Dec on New year eve or on the 3rd Jan Lucknow rally before ECI imposed MCC from Jan 4th.

Last year, Arun Jaitley had made Modi Government’s intention amply clear of advancing the Union Budget solely for the purpose of early distribution of funds so that states have enough money for implementing the government policies starting from April 1st. The Government is not naïve to not to abide by ECI guided principle (which is not governed by law)

The Union Budget is a constitutional exercise and is a constitutional necessity. In a sub-continent like India, where the elections are held every month in one corner or the other, the Union Government cannot be put in a hibernate mode.

It is not advisable to defer or advance the Budget dates. The people of this country are careful when they vote for State Assemblies. They vote on the basis of their regional issues. Yes, the Central Government’s policies touch-base the entire nation but just because there are state elections it should not shy away from announcing the policies which are in the larger interest of this nation. The history is evident that there have always

been a clean and fair elections in India and they will continue to be.

P.S – To avoid the above controversy, this can very well lead us to contemplate whether there is a dire need to conduct General and State Assembly elections concurrently or as Jay Panda suggested of conducting polls after every two and half-years. Surely, the Budgeting exercise should not be hampered in the due course.