If budget doesn't have anything special for Goa, then there is no problem: Quraishi
Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday said that he did not think there was any problem in presenting the Budget for 2012-13 on schedule in the wake of the announcement of Assembly elections in five states.
“The Union budget is usually presented on the last date of February. Next year being a leap year, the budget is likely to be placed on February 29. The elections to all the State Assemblies, except in Goa, will be over by that date. So, I don't think there will be any problem,” he told PTI.
Mr. Mukherjee, however, said the date for the presentation of the budget will be fixed after discussions at various levels.
Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi shares a view similar to Mr. Mukherjee and does not see any problem in presentation of the general budget as per schedule.
“Ideally, I should not comment on what the government does. As it is we have a lot of problems... seven to eight factors like climate, exams, law and order and festivals were taken into account.
“Except in Goa, we will be completing the elections in all four States by February 28, leaving February 29 for the budget. I have nothing to do with it. Our feeling was that if the budget does not have anything special for Goa, then there is no problem [about presentation of budget],” Mr. Quraishi told PTI.
However, he added that it is not as if the budget has not been postponed. “There has been a precedent once in the past of the budget having been shifted to mid-March. But, if there are no announcements specific to Goa, there is no problem. It is for the government,” he said.
The Assembly elections for Goa are scheduled to be held on March 3.
Former Election Commissioner G.V.G. Krishnamurthy, however, is of the view that there is no need for the government to defer the budget presentation.
He said the Model Code of Conduct applied to the States that go to the polls and not for the Centre.
“Every normal national activity must go on. The Union budget is a national activity and elections cannot hinder it. Presentation of the budget is a national function not a function of political parties,” Mr. Krishnamurthy said.
Observers recall an instance of the budget presentation being slightly delayed when the government accepted the advice of the Election Commission, then headed by T.N. Seshan, in the mid-1990s, to defer the presentation.
‘Anna plan raises questions of ethics'
Team Anna's proposal to campaign against the Congress in the coming Assembly polls in five States raises questions of “propriety and ethics,” Mr. Quraishi said, warning that anything that came in the way of free and fair elections was not acceptable.
Asked whether he would like to caution Team Anna, he said: “No. I think it [caution] will be a little strong word. I am hopeful that nothing will be done which will disturb the election process.”
‘Don't violate code'
Mr. Quraishi said: “We don't have any problem because in a democracy they have a right to oppose or support anybody. [But] it should not be in violation of the model code of conduct. There should be no hate speech and anything that leads to law and order problems. These are issues we are watching. We will ensure absolutely that there is peace and order.” The CEC said: “At the same time, there is a growing feeling of propriety and ethics, and whether this movement is entering into politics. Then questions will be raised. We feel that it is for the leaders of the movement that they should be very careful that they will not be on the wrong side of the law.”