The Election Commission has sought government's reply on opposition's demand to postpone the Budget, which is set to be presented just three days before five states including Uttar Pradesh start voting on February 4.
The EC has written to Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha seeking the government's reply by January 10.
The ECI’s missive to Sinha, aims to get the Centre’s views and reasons for rescheduling the Budget session and, therefore, the Budget presentation, before taking a decision on the matter.
Presentation of budget is a legislative exercise and the poll panel can't direct the government to postpone it but only persuade it, it would be up to the centre then to take a call.
The Opposition parties had earlier this week petitioned the Commission asking that the Central government should defer the Budget presentation on account of the upcoming Assembly elections in five States.
Representatives of the Congress, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal and DMK had met Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi.
While the EC is examining the petitions, Commission sources said the date for Budget presentation was not likely to change in case the Centre chose not to defer it.
However, as per the Model Code of Conduct, the government cannot make any specific Budget announcement pertaining to the poll-bound States which may amount to influencing voters.
Elections will be held in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur from February 4 to March 8. Counting of votes will take place on March 11.
Opposition parties say the government can sway voters with populist announcements if the budget is presented as scheduled on February 1.
In 2012, when the same states were up for election, the budget, usually shared on the last working day in February, was moved to mid-March after voting was completed. But this was a decision taken by the Congress-led UPA government.
The Budget session of the Parliament will begin from February 1 if the government has its way.
The session is being advanced as the government wants early allocation of funds for various schemes-- from April 1, the beginning of the financial year.
The ruling BJP says there is no reason to postpone the budget as "every year, some election or the other takes place."
"Even in 2014, the budget was presented before the polls," said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley this Wednesday.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had already said that the government would present the Union Budget on February 1 to ensure proposals take effect from April 1.
The first part of the budget session of parliament will start on January 31. The cabinet decided last September to merge the railway budget with the annual budget, ending a nearly century-long practice.