After the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) decided that the Budget Session of Parliament will begin from January 31, with the Economic Survey to be tabled on the day one and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to present the Budget the next day i.e., on February 1, Opposition parties have come together to protest the move saying that this move would unduly benefit the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Budget Session usually begins in the third week of February, with the Budget being presented on February 28. But the current decision would result in Budget Session to be advanced by about three weeks. Centre says this move will ensure better overall governance.
However, Congress, Samajwadi Party and Left, and other Opposition parties are not willing to see things the Centre’s way and as a result they have written a joint letter to President Pranab Mukherjee and to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) claiming that the move to advance the Budget is an attempt to influence the assembly elections in five states which includes Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. Meanwhile, the Election Commission is examining the representation of the political parties on presentation of Union Budget during the poll process and said that will take a view soon.
The Opposition in its letter wants the NDA government to reveal the the real intention behind the decision. They were quoted by Indian Express as saying in the letter that was sent earlier this week, that the government could announce populist schemes in the middle of the election campaign so as to influence the voters. And the parties have said the government should be stopped from advancing the Budget Session, so as to support the motto of free and fair elections.
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Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav, CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury and JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav, are among those who have signed the letter. Anand Sharma, Congress Deputy Leader in Rajya Sabha, was quoted as saying, “All the Opposition parties have opposed it because the functioning of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government is marked by authoritarianism and arbitrariness, with scant respect for parliamentary precedents and practices. The Opposition was not even consulted. A similar situation had arisen in 2012, when elections were to be held in the same states. And the presentation of Budget, on the demand of the then principal Opposition party, was deferred, respecting the correctness of democratic traditions and the need of fairness of elections.” He also said an early Budget was aimed at unfairly influencing the electoral verdict.