06th January 2017, 05:09 Hrs
Opposition parties have demanded that the Central government shift the date of the Budget from February 1 to after polling is completed in all states on March 8. And it makes sense. Elections in the five states will start on February 4 and the Budget speech, which is a combination of tax proposals and policy, will give the BJP a huge advantage in all five states, assuming that the Centre uses it to further its cause in the elections. There is no compelling reason to announce the Budget on February 1 and the Centre can easily wait till after the polls as it will have till the end of March to get it passed. In 2012 a similar situation had arisen. Five states went to the polls and the last date for polling was March 3, in Goa. The Budget is usually presented in the last week of February, but then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, after consultation with stakeholders, deferred the Budget and announced it after the polls. If the present finance minister Arun Jaitley is looking for a precedent, Mukherjee provided it in 2012. Postponing the Budget is the honourable thing to do unless the Modi government wants to deliberately use it to give itself undue advantage in the elections to five states. If the government fails to see the sense in postponing the Budget the Election Commission must step in.