New Delhi: The Election Commission on Monday cleared the decks for the central government to present the Budget 2017 on February 1, but barred it from announcing any schemes for the five poll-bound states.
The poll panel also specified that the Finance Minister's speech should not refer to the government's achievements in these states either.
In a letter addressed to the Cabinet Secretary, the EC said 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 states where assembly elections have been announced.
The EC mentioned a 2009 advisory which said vote-on-account in place of a full fledged budget is presented ahead of elections as per convention.
Assembly elections in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur are scheduled to be held between February 4 and March 8.