NEW DELHI: Former finance minister and senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha today lashed out yet again at the Narendra-Modi led NDA government amid speculations that the government would present its annual budget in Parliament ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Speaking at a conference organised by the Indian Women’s Press Corps, the bureaucrat turned politician who is a very vocal critic of the current dispensation stated that if the government went ahead and presented the annual budget it would be violating constitutional conventions.

“It is being argued that there are no constitutional provisions to stop a government from presenting a budget right now - but let me reiterate that if the government presents a budget right now it will be the first one in the history of independent India to do so. This will be unprecedented. Article 116 of the Indian Constitution allows an outgoing government to present an interim budget only,“ said Sinha.

If the government does present an interim budget before the elections, it cannot introduce new services in it, nor touch upon direct taxes.

It is being speculated, however, that the NDA 2 government will present a full budget in the session starting January 31, and may increase the floor taxable annual income from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.

Sinha also accused the government of meddling with economic data and trying to influence the opinion of the masses through fudged figures. He pointed out that the base year and formula for computing the GDP were changed soon after PM Modi assumed power, in order to present a favourable picture of the growth story.

The former finance minister also accused the government of not letting the truth about the impact of demonetisation on agriculture come out in public, through concrete figures and data.

“I can with all the responsibility say that the government is not just manipulating GDP figures, but it also did not let the report on the impact of demonetisation come out in public after the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance asked for it. The Agriculture Ministry subtly pulled back the report. And then again, the government is misleading the country with data on employment. The Labour Bureau study should have been published by December 31 but it has not come out even now,” Sinha remarked.

This government is one of a kind, said Sinha, as “whatever it does is against constitutional norms, be that excluding the foreign minister from trips abroad, to not keeping even concerned ministries informed while taking crucial decisions. Every democratic institution of this country is under attack today, and I can again say with a sense of responsibility that our judiciary was never in such a mess before.”

Sinha cited examples like the Home Ministry not being informed after the PDP had walked away from an alliance with the BJP in Jammu and Kashmir. Or Finance Minister Arun Jaitley remaining uninformed about demonetisation until it was announced.

He also alleged that bureaucrats were being dictated to from the Prime Minister’s Office, bypassing the ministries.

Sinha felt that for the forthcoming elections the priority for everyone should be to defeat the Narendra Modi Amit Shah duo. Any alliance which could do that should be strengthened. “This is about our country and its constitution. It must be saved,” he told the gathering.

Responding to The Citizen’s question on Priyanka Gandhi’s entry into politics, Sinha said the other Nehru-Gandhi scion’s presence had already had an impact which was only going to increase further with her activity on the ground in days to come.

On speculations that the Congress would eat into the Mahagatbandhan (Grand Coalition) vote in Uttar Pradesh, Sinha predicted that the Congress and the SP–BSP combine would arrive at a tactical understanding in the state. UP sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha.