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Don't announce schemes or work done in poll bound states: EC to govt
A plea seeking to restrain the government from presenting Union Budget on February 1 was turned down by the Supreme Court (SC) and the Election Commission (EC) also gave its approval for the same. The only thing that the EC has restricted the government from is to not announce any scheme specific to the states that are going for polls.

The EC has said that announcing any state-specific schemes or highlighting government's achievements in these states in the Budget speech would disturb the level-playing field and tilt it in favour of the ruling party.

"The Commission hereby directs that in the interest of free and fair elections and in order to maintain level playing field during elections, no state-specific schemes shall be announced in the national budget which may have the effect of influencing the electors of the five poll-going states in favour of the ruling party. It may be ensured that in the Budget speech, the government's achievements in respect of the said five states will also not be highlighted in any manner," stated the EC.

The EC refused to lay down a specified course of action but 'advised' the government to take a vote-on-account in case of states going to assembly polls. It referred to its advisory of March 9, 2009. As per the advisory, when a general election is imminent or the process of general election has been announced a vote-on-account for 3-4 months should be taken, instead of presenting full budget.

The Commission on Monday told the Cabinet secretary that it "expects that the advice given by the Commission in that letter (cited above) be duly kept in view by the government at the time of presentation of the budget for the next financial year 2017-18".

The Opposition leaders had protested against the government's move to present the budget just before the assembly elections as it could give the ruling party an edge in polls in the poll-bound states.

Leaders of the Congress, Trinamool, Samajwadi Party, BSP, Janata Dal (United) and RJD had met the Election Commission to argue the case for deferring the budget. But the EC declined their request.

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