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Govt's intent to present 'regular budget' serious, grave: Congress

Tewari said the NDA-BJP government does not have the electoral mandate and it does not have the electoral legitimacy to present six full budgets in five years

2019 Interim Budget  |  Interim Budget  |  Budget Session

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Manish Tewari
File photo of Manish Tewari

The Congress on Thursday said it will strongly oppose both inside and outside Parliament the presentation of a "full budget" by the BJP-led NDA government as it has "no electoral legitimacy" and the step will go against set precedents and Parliamentary traditions.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari termed as "serious and grave" reports claiming that the BJP-led Government was planning to present a "regular budget" and demanded that it should follow constitutional propriety and only presents a vote-on-account on February 1, 2019 ahead of general elections.

BJP sources have indicated that the Modi government is likely to present a full-fledged budget with a slew of announcements on welfare measures relating to farmers, youth and women.

"A budget is budget. The government is likely present a full-fledged budget. There is no such rule that the government before elections should not present a budget for the entire year. The new government may make changes after the polls if it so wishes," a sources in BJP said.

Tewari said if the reports in public space are correct then it would be "a flagrant violation" of all parliamentary conventions, procedures and traditions that have been followed over the past seven decades since the Constitution of India came into effect.

"The NDA-BJP government does not have the electoral mandate and it does not have the electoral legitimacy to present six full budgets in five years," Tewari told reporters.

"The Congress party strongly demands that the NDA-BJP Government follows constitutional propriety and only presents a vote-on-account on February 1, 2019. They should desist from presenting a full-fledged budget and were that to happen, it would be strongly opposed both on the floor of the House and outside," he said.

Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said the government's intent in doing so is questionable and termed it a "desperate attempt" to make "grandiose announcement and hoodwink people" in contravention of the Constitution.

"The BJP government's move to present a regular budget few months before the elections is against all norms, rules and established Parliamentary practices. The term of the government is five years, which ends in May 2019. The government presented five full budgets and can only present a vote on account," he said.

Sharma, a former union minister, said for a budget for 12 months, the government must have the same tenure. A tenure of three months and a budget for one year is "bizarre and unprecedented", he said, noting that the budget is followed by the Finance Bill that must be adopted in 75 days.

Tewari said the NDA-BJP government does not have the electoral mandate and it does not have the electoral legitimacy to present six full budgets in five years, as it has already presented five budgets mandated by the people.

He said the tenure of this government comes to an end on May 26, 2019 and a new government will have to assume office before that date.

"So, a government which is going to be in office for a mere 56 days from April 1, 2019, how does it have the legitimacy, leave alone the mandate, to present a budget for 365 days. When you do not have tenure, where do you derive the locus from to present a budget for 365 days and then there are laid down procedure," he said.

The Congress leader noted that once the Union Budget is presented, it goes to the respective department related Standing Committees, which scrutinise the proposals of every ministry and report back to Parliament and only after that the Finance Bill is adopted and passed.

He alleged that the NDA-BJP Government has "rightly earned the title of being an institutional slayer" and said if it was to throw all parliamentary conventions, propriety and traditions to the winds because of being "motivated by electoral opportunism, populism" and "if they were to commit this travesty in another institution, the temple of Indian democracy, Parliament of India would stand completely undermined".

"This perhaps would have been the biggest blow that would be inflicted by the NDA-BJP government on not only what constitutes an electoral mandate but the powers and responsibilities which flow out of that electoral mandate which gives the government a maximum term of five years.

"So, in the dying days of this government knowing fully well that they are on their way out... the Indian national Congress strongly demands that the NDA-BJP Government follow constitutional propriety and only present a vote-on-account on the 1st of February 2019," he said.

The former union minister also alleged that this government has "completely destroyed" the Indian economy over the past 55 months due to demonetization, "badly implemented" GST and "completely no job creation".

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First Published: Thu, January 24 2019. 20:51 IST