The Election Commission on Monday gave its nod to the centre to present the Union Budget 2017 on 1 February ahead of the assembly elections, but said no schemes related to these poll-bound states can be announced.
Also, finance minister Arun Jaitley’s budget speech should not refer to the government’s achievements in these states.
The government had pitched for an earlier budget date, instead of the traditional 28 February, to complete the legislative part of financial business before 1 April, the start of a financial year.
It also reminded the government of a 2009 advisory which said vote-on-account instead of a full-fledged budget is presented ahead of elections as per convention.
“The Commission hereby directs that in the interest of free and fair elections and in order to maintain level playing field…no state-specific schemes shall be announced which may have the effect of influencing the electors of the five poll going states in favour of the ruling parties,” the election commission told cabinet secretary P.K.Sinha.
It also said in the finance minister’s speech, the government’s achievements in respect of the five states “will not be highlighted in any manner”
Elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Punjab and Goa will be held between 4 February and 8 March. The results will be announced on 11 March.