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Congress attacks govt over plans to present Budget three days before commencement of polls

Congress on Wednesday remained unrelenting in its attack on the Narendra Modi government over its plans to present the Union Budget on February 1, three days prior to the start of voting in assembly elections in five states.

The principal Opposition party said the budget is traditionally presented on February 28 since independence but the Modi government wants to present it during the time of elections. Party spokesperson Ajoy Kumar said it is a convention that when an assembly election is scheduled, the Centre presents a vote-on-account and presents a full-fledged budget later. He recalled that the BJP had raised objections in 2012 on the same count and the then UPA government had only presented a vote-on-account.

“Fearing defeat and leaving aside the good traditions of Parliament, Prime Minister Modi wants to present the budget in the poll atmosphere. The public knows it all and Prime Minister will not be successful in his plans,” he said. The Congress leader accused Modi of presenting a “mini-budget” two days ahead of the poll schedule announcement and making some lofty announcements in a bid to lure voters. “There is something called budgetary secrecy. Issues with financial implications are usually presented by the Finance Minister,” he said.

Another spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil said the Congress and 15 other parties have also written to the President on the “ill-timed decision” of the Modi government to advance the date for budget presentation.

“The poor decisions and mis-governance have left the Prime Minister shaken and clueless. Like the drowning man in the ocean, Prime Minister Modi made announcements three days before the election dates came out. As a result of his mis-governance, Modi will not receive the support of the people in these elections,” he said.

Gohil added that the announcements made by the Prime Minister were “too hollow” as he was trying to “mislead” the people of the country with announcements that are already in place since long.

He said the reality is that the Rabi Season’s crop finance, by and large has not been given or received yet and the Prime Minister’s 60 days interest for the Rabi crop will be waived for farmers does not mean much. The Election Commission is already examining the representation of various political parties for not allowing the presentation of the Union Budget during the poll process of five states and will take a call on it soon.

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad also wrote a letter to the CEC in which he said, “It is a collective and serious concern of the Opposition parties that advancing the presentation of budget to February 1 will provide an opportunity to the government to make populist announcements to influence voters. “This will not only give unfair advantage to the ruling party but will also undermine the process of free and fair elections. It is therefore demanded that in view of the forthcoming elections and the precedent of 2012, the advancement of the presentation of the budget should not be allowed,” he said.