Dec4. 2012, ET
NEW DELHI: The Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday expressed dissatisfaction with the government on the announcement timing of Direct Cash Transfer Scheme (DCT). EC directed the government to defer the implementation of the scheme in four districts of Gujarat and two of Himachal Pradesh till the state assembly elections are over.
In a stern message to the government, EC said that the timing of government’s DCT scheme was ‘avoidable’. “The government should have maintained letter and spirit of model code of conduct,” it said.
On its part, the government on Monday had told the EC that it did not violate the model code of conduct by announcing the direct cash transfer scheme. In its reply to a notice from the poll panel, the government had stressed that the scheme was among the proposals announced by then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in his budget speech in March. Also, the Prime Minister’s Office had issued a statement on September 28, in which it was said that the prime minister has set up the architecture for moving to electronic cash transfers leveraging Aadhaar.
The government, in its reply, said that both these announcements were made well before the model code of conduct came into force on October 3 for the assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
BJP has been objecting over the announcement made last week at Congress headquarters by finance minister P Chidambaram and the rural development minister Jairam Ramesh. The ministers termed the scheme as a game-changer. BJP complained to the poll panel that the scheme was announced ahead of the Gujarat assembly polls, scheduled on December 13 and 17, and hence there was violation of the model code of conduct. BJP also added that four of the 51 districts selected to benefit initially from the scheme were in poll-bound Gujarat.
BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday said that his party was against abolition of the public distribution system, which he claimed had done well in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Bihar. “Is Congress serious about it (direct cash transfer scheme)? Have they done their homework well? Let Manish Tewari say why it has come a cropper after it was introduced with fanfare in Rajasthan,” Prasad asked.