The ball now lies in the court of the Election Commission of India which announced election dates for five states on Wednesday. The poll bound states are Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Punjab.
Legal experts say that this is a Constitutional duty and cannot be postponed as is being demanded by the opposition. At best the government can avoid announcing sops for the five poll bound states, legal experts say.
The Opposition has already petitioned the President of India as well as the ECI seeking that the budget be postponed. It would be the ECI in consultation with legal experts which will take a final call on whether the budget will be presented on February 1 as scheduled or wait till March 8 when the last phase of the elections will come to a close.
While the government says that the budget cannot be shifted as it is Constitutional work, the opposition cites examples of the past when the same has been postponed in view of the model code of conduct being in force.
The model code of conduct immediately comes into force after the election dates are announced. The opposition says that the budget could tip the scales in favour of the government as it can make several announcements which in turn would affect their poll prospects during the elections.
Legal experts, however, say that the ECI at best could tell the government to avoid announcing any major sops in the case of the poll bound states.