Poll schedule could delay budget presentation

New Delhi: The announcement of the Assembly election schedule in five states between Jan 30 and March 3 has raised the possibility of the rescheduling of the Union Budget presentation this year.

The general budget, which is presented on the last day of February every year, may be slightly deferred till after March 4 when the counting of votes in the elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa will be completed.

Asked about the possibility of budget being postponed, Quairashi said the Commission has to take into account many factors when fixing dates for the polls. "But there is a precedent, I think, in 1976-77 budget was delayed. It (elections) came in the middle of march," he said.

Former Election Commissioner G V G Krishnamurthy, however, is of the view that there is no no need for the government to defer budget presentation in view of the announcement of the election schedule for the five states.

He said the Model Code of Conduct applied to the states that go to polls and not not for the Centre.

"Every normal national activity must go on. The Union Budget is a national activity and elections cannot hinder it (its presentation). Presentation of budget is a national function not a function of political parties," Krishnamurthy said.

"This is stretching the code too much," he said when asked if the model code would come in the way of presentation of General Budgets and the Railway Budgets in Parliament.

Observers recall an instance of the Central Budget presentation being slightly delayed when the government accepted the advise of the Election Commission then headed by T N Seshan in the mid-1990s to defer the presentation.

But since then there has been no no postponement of the budget presentation because state elections were being held.