The Election Commission hopes that the Centre will strictly follow the model code of conduct and refrain from announcing any special package, new scheme or project for Goa in the Union budget. For, any such offer might influence voters in the State, where the Assembly elections are to be held on March 3, 2012, a senior EC official said, talking to The Hindu here on Monday.

“I hope the government would have understood our point going by the reports appearing in the media and we have no plan as of now to send a formal letter to the government. As far as we are concerned, we are neutral and we want this to be maintained at any cost.”

No party should get advantage due to announcements made in Parliament.

Though any budget announcement on new schemes, financial packages and projects would cover the entire nation, the moot question was how the government could omit Goa while giving sops, the official wondered.

He dismissed reports that the model code applied to the State government and not to the Centre. “It is wrong, the code applies to the Central government too as far as any particular State which goes to the polls,” he said.

On advancing the Goa elections to a date before February 29 (date of budget presentation), he said it was practically not possible as the poll date had been fixed taking into consideration the movement and deployment of the security forces, examination schedules, weather, festivals, etc.

Meanwhile, the former Secretary-General of the Lok Sabha, P.D.T. Achary said there was no reason to demand postponement of the budget just because one State was going to the polls around that time.

Only the budget presentation, and not the model code, had constitutional backing. Though there was no mention in the Constitution of the date on which the budget had to be presented, conventionally the exercise took place on the last day of February.