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

News Snippets

  • Corona cases in India cross 4000 and the death toll stands at 124
  • The government decides to double the testing of corona suspects from 10000 now to 20000 in the next three days
  • Flipkart assures employees that there will be no job or salary cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Although it was obvious, but the government still clarifies that there is no need to switch off appliances and only lights need to be switched off on April 5 at 9pm after confusion in the minds of some people
  • PM Modi and President Trump decide "to deploy full strength of (Indo-US) partnership" to fight against COVID-19
  • 17 states have reported 1023 cases of coronavirus linked to the Tablighi Jamaat, which translates to 30% of all positive cases in India
  • The government says people should not use alcohol-based hand sanitizers before lighting diyas or candles on April 5
  • The railways say there is no certainty yet when services will resume after the lockdown and a final decision will be taken in the next few days
  • As coronavirus cases multiply in Assam, six north-east states seal their borders with the state
  • Power System Operation Corporation Ltd. (POCOSO) putting all systems and protocols in place at war-footing to ensure there is no grid failure due to reduction in demand on April 5 at 9 pm
  • Power ministry scotches rumours that the power grid might fail due to the 9-minute blackout called by PM Modi on Sunday, April 5
  • Centre asks people to wear home-made masks if it is absolutely essential for them to step out of homes
  • Centre asks states to allow licensed street vendors to sell essential items
  • 8000 samples were tested across India on April 2, but the government said that testing will be need-based and will not be used as a confidence-boosting measure
  • Air India operating special flights to fly passengers stuck in India since the lockdown
India shows solidarity in the fight against COVID-19 by lighting diyas and candles at 9 pm yesterday as requested by Prime Minister Modi
oppn parties
Whose Fault if the Elections and the Budget Clash?

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2017-01-05 20:21:31

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.