M A I N   N E W S

Citing EC code, govt postpones budget session
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, January 3
The UPA government has cited the Election Commission’s model code of conduct as the ostensible reason to postpone the presentation of the Union Budget for 2012-13.

But the real reason is that it wants to go into the budget session of Parliament after the Assembly elections are over in the belief that the outcome of the elections could result in a reconfiguration of political equations at the Centre.

“The real reason, however, is political. We want greater clarity in our relations with other political parties before we go into a crucial Parliament session,” remarked a senior UPA minister.

The government was isolated during last month’s high-voltage debate on the Lokpal Bill as it was deserted by its key ally the Trinamool Congress while supporting parties like the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chose to join the Opposition ranks with a clear eye on the upcoming February poll in Uttar Pradesh.

The government is, however, hoping that its relations with these political parties will undergo a change after the hurly burly of electioneering is over, making it easier for it to manage Parliament during the lengthy budget session.

As relations between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress are fast deteriorating, the UPA government is looking to expand the ruling coalition to reduce its dependence on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s 19 Lok Sabha MPs.

The Congress is looking at a post-poll scenario in which it could tie up with the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh while the SP would reciprocate by joining the UPA government at the Centre.

The SP’s 22 MPs in the Lok Sabha and would provide some relief to the ruling combine given its wafer-thin majority in the lower House. Similarly, the SP’s four members would add to the UPA’s numbers in the Rajya Sabha where it is in a minority.

Consequently, the government is looking at the possibility of beginning the budget session on March 12 with the customary President’s address to the members of the two Houses. This will be followed in quick succession with the railway budget, economic survey and the Union Budget which should be presented on March 16.

The budget session normally commences around February 20 while the Union Budget is traditionally presented on the last day of February.

UPA ministers have officially stated that this exercise has to be pushed back since the Centre will be hamstrung in making any policy decisions till the election process is over as the Election Commission’s model code of conduct would be in place.





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