oppn parties Whose Fault if the Elections and the Budget Clash?

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  • Crude prices fall sharply as Saudi Arabia assures normal production in a few weeks. Prices fall by 5.4% to $65.30 per barrel
  • Sensex tumbles 700 points over fears that rising crude prices will deal a body blow to the tottering Indian economy
  • As Rajeev Kumar fails to appear before the CBI despite several notices, the agency forms a special team to locate and apprehend him
  • S Jaishankar says Pakistan is not a normal neighbour and its behaviour is a "set of aberrations"
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  • Barasat Sessions court near Kolkata rejects Rajeev Kumar anticipatory bail application citing lack of jurisdiction as the reason
  • PM Modi celebrates his birthday with Narmada aarti and later has lunch with his mother.
  • All 6 Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs merge with the Congress in Rajasthan
  • Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee to meet PM Modi on Wednesday, state issues on the agenda
  • Pakistan to open Kartarpur corridor on Nov 9
  • Rajeev Kumar, ex-police commissioner of Kolkata and wanted for questioning in the Sarada scam does not appear before the CBI despite the state administration requesting him to do so
  • Supreme Court asks the Centre to restore normalcy in J&K but keeping national interest in mind
  • As Trump accepts the invitation to attend a programme in Houston with PM Modi, India rushes to settle trade issues with US
  • After drone attack on Aramco's Suadi Arabia facility, oil prices jump 19% in intra-day trading causing worries for India
  • Imran Khan raises nuclear war bogey again, says if Pakistan loses a conventional war, it might fight till the end with its nuclear arsenal
Sunni Wakf Board and Nirvani Akhara write to the Supreme Court for a negotiated settlement to the Ayodhya dispute
oppn parties
Whose Fault if the Elections and the Budget Clash?

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
As early as 26th October, 2016, Prime Minister Modi had indicated that the government would advance the date of presentation of the Union budget from February 28 to February 1 from 2017. This, the government said, was being done so that there would be clear two months to get legislative approvals for annual spending plans and tax proposals and the same could be completed before the new financial year from April 1. That, in turn, would allow for speedier implementation of schemes. The decision was formally communicated to all on November 15, 2016. Finally, on January 3, the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) recommended the same to the President, sealing the matter.

Just a day after that, on January 4, the Election Commission announced for elections to be held in five states including Goa, Punjab and UP in a phased manner from February 4 to March 3, 2017. The EC was well aware that the budget would be presented on February 1, just three days before the first day on which voting was to take place. It was also aware that the government could present a populist budget with an aim to sway voters. Then why did it announce the dates so close to the budget? The opposition parties have cried foul and have approached both the EC and the President to prevent what they call an unfair advantage the BJP might gain by presenting a populist budget. But is the government or the BJP really at fault, since the elections were scheduled after it was well known that the budget was to be presented on February 1?

The oppositionÂ’s concern is understandable. No amount of goodies they promise in their manifestos can compete with the immediate tangible benefits the government can transfer through the budget. But it is also true elections keep happening as per schedule, the budget is a constitutional necessity that also needs to be presented as per schedule. If the budget is pushed back to March 4, the very purpose for which it was advanced will get negated, throwing planning of approvals and implementation of schemes out of gear. This is not advisable at a time when many sectors of the economy are already suffering from post demonetization pangs. Alternatively, the EC can reschedule elections to a date in May or June. But can the opposition be sure that if the government presents a populist budget, the people will not be swayed then? Hence, the opposition should accept that it is not the governmentÂ’s fault that elections were announced after it decided to present the budget on February 1 and let things stand as they are.