News Frontliner Web Desk, 29 January 2019: From reports appearing in the public space, it’s most likely that BJP led NDA government at the centre will be presenting a full-fledged Union Budget on 1st of February 2019. Traditionally, in an election year, the outgoing government presents an interim budget or so-called vote on account. As 2019 General Election will take place anytime between April and May, so presenting a full-fledged budget for just 2 months is “entirely improper and unconstitutional” feels opposition political parties and constitutional experts.
BJP leaders are however of the view that the Vote on Account should be like any full-fledged budget and the government should not hold itself back in announcing sops for farmers, the rural sector and the middle class.
Party sources claimed the Vote on Account nomenclature used for a budget presented before the Lok Sabha election is misplaced and it should include all announcements that are made in the regular budget. While declaring any tax concessions would be difficult, relief for those sections that are on the radar of the BJP in the next general elections should be announced.
“Any budget means a full-fledged budget. The budget to be presented on Feb 1 is expected to be similar to a regular budget,” a senior BJP leader said.
Sensing this, main opposition Congress has cautioned the government against deviating from the norm of a Vote on Account sticking only to provisions for the next three months. BJP leaders maintain previous Congress governments have themselves breached this convention and have no right to preach them.
Though the party has reportedly given suggestions for announcing sops for farmers, its contours will be decided by the Narendra Modi government. BJP is not in favour of any loan waiver despite political pressure in the wake of a similar move by Congress in the recent Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh that contributed to its victory.
Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Anand Sharma said a full Budget before the general elections is an “illegality” and will be “shredded” once the ruling government is voted out. Giving his clarification, Anand Sharma said, ” This is contempt of Parliament. The government was elected for five years. It has presented five Budgets. Read Articles 83, 112, 114 of the Constitution. When a government does not have a tenure lasting a full year, how can it plan a Budget for the new term which may belong to another government? When the Budget is presented, it is sent to different departmental standing committees. After 75 days of scrutiny, Finance Bill and Appropriation Bill come back and, on every Budget head, there is a vote and guillotine. But this process cannot be completed before the elections are declared. Therefore, anything they say in the Budget is an illegality. The BJP clearly believes that people of India are fools.”
Congress led opposition has warned the government that any attempt to present a full budget on 1 February, will be resisted and they will hold agitation in Parliament and on the streets.