PC joins leap year budget club, only the 9th

Written by Agencies | New Delhi, February 29: | Updated: Feb 29 2008, 21:21pm hrs
Finance Minister P Chidambaram today joined the leap year club presenting the country's ninth budget on that extra day which falls once in four years.

The 62-year-old lawyer turned politician, whose brush with the annual budgetary exercise began in 1996 with a 'dream budget', is closing in on Morarji Desai by presenting hisa seventh budget but will he equal his record is anybody's guess.

Desai presented eight budgets and had also accounted for two leap year budgets. C D Deshmukh follows Chidambaram with six full budgets to his credit, followed by five each for Manmohan Singh as Finance Minister and Yashwant Sinha.

It will only be the ninth time since the country's independence that the budget was tabled on the last day of February(Feb.29) in a leap year.

With the United Progressive Alliance(UPA) government's tenure due to end on May 21, 2009, the incumbent finance minister has another chance to present a budget next year. But given that it will be an election year, he may have to settle for an interim one.

And it will be ifs and buts as to who will present next year's budget if elections are held earlier as being speculated going by the tenor of the full annual statement of accounts today.

Chidambaram presented his first regular budget on July 22 1996 when H D Deve Gowda was the United Front prime minister.

The interim budget for that year was tabled by Manmohan Singh when he was the prime minister.