New Delhi, January 24, 2017
Welcoming the Election Commission's direction to the Centre over the Union Budget against state-specific schemes, the Congress party on Tuesday said that democracy requires a level playing field between the ruling government and opposition and added that the poll panel has rightfully upheld it with its order.
"Democracy requires a level playing field between the government of the day and opposition and the Election Commission has rightfully upheld it and we welcome it," Congress leader Randeep Surjewala told ANI.
Surjewala further added that the Prime Minster Narendra Modi-led BJP Government has a track record of propagating the political prospect and the Election Commission order would be essential in maintain level playing field in a democratic country.
Echoing similar sentiments, another Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi asserted that the government should take great care and caution to not directly or indirectly try and influence voters while presenting the budget.
"The governments which are so politicized and political as is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's, they have various means of directly or indirectly achieving the same things, that is what Election Commission has prohibited," he said.
The Election Commission on Monday ordered that no state specific schemes shall be announced in national budget in the interest of free and fair elections, adding that in the budget speech the government's achievements in respect of five poll-bound states will not be highlighted.
Earlier on Monday, the government called for an all-party meeting on January 30 ahead of the Budget Session of Parliament.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court announced that the budget will be announced on February 1, as had been decided by the government.
The apex court rejected lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma's plea seeking postponement of Union Budget to March due to the upcoming assembly elections in the five states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Manipur, Goa and Uttarakhand next month.
Sharma in his plea stated that the people would face a lot of problems due to the upcoming assembly elections in these five states.
The opposition had also sought the same, arguing that the budget announcement would allure the voters and influence voting thereby leading to unfair elections.
[The Business Standard]