With Election Commission announcing the poll dates for five states – Goa, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Manipur- the question that arises now is, whether the Budget can be presented on February 1 or not? This is also being reviewed by the Election Commission. Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said that one political party has asked that the government be disallowed from sharing its budget before the elections are held. One thing to also note is that PM Narendra Modi in his December 31 address announced a lot of sops which made his speech look like a ‘mini-budget’. “The speech seemed like a budget speech. He did not mention about bringing back black money at all,” Lalu Prasad Yadav said. Was the PM aware that Budget could be postponed?
The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) on Tuesday recommended holding of the Budget Session from January 31 when the government is likely to table the Economy Survey followed by the Union Budget on February 1. But opposition parties have complained that this will give the government an unfair advantage because the budget will include populist scheme and reforms that could influence voters. This, they allege, will violate the model code of conduct that kicks in as soon as elections are announced and forbid parties in power from taking or sharing decisions that could skew voters towards them.
The first part of the Budget Session will run till February 9. The 92-year-old practice of presenting a separate Rail Budget is going to end from this fiscal, with the Finance Ministry accepting Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s proposal to merge it with the General Budget. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has indicated that railway travel may become pricier for passengers come the next financial year. Jaitley is also set to hold pre-budget consultation with states on January 4, after the meeting of the GST Council gets over.
Meanwhile, voting starts on February 4 and ends on March 8. Counting for all five states will be held on March 11.