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BJP protests direct cash transfer scheme

Posted on Nov 30, 10:11PM | IANS

BJP leaders Friday met Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath to lodge a protest over the government's decision to pay cash to beneficiaries of official schemes, saying the announcement could influence voters in upcoming elections.

BJP senior leader L.K. Advani told reporters that such announcements should not be made by a government once election dates have been declared.

"There has been announcement of direct cash transfer. The states where elections are due should have been excluded. They (government) could not have done it under the (election) code of conduct," Advani said.

Elections are due in Gujarat next month and four of the 51 districts chosen for the first phase of the roll-out for direct cash transfers fall in that state.

The BJP memorandum asked why the scheme was announced in a hurry and accused the government of trying to influence voters in Gujarat.

"While we do not go into the merits or demerits of the scheme at this stage, our intention is only to draw the kind attention of the commission to the timing of the announcement. The launch of the scheme is scheduled for January 1, 2013. As such, the announcement could well have been made after the completion of the election process in Gujarat," the memorandum said.

"Government spokespersons are using clever arguments that the scheme does not envisage any new financial assistance; it only delineates a new form in which the existing bounties or assistance will be made available to the beneficiaries."

"This is a weak defence seen in the backdrop of the packaging of the scheme in terms of promises and expectations of certain quantum of cash that will flow into every Aadhaar registered beneficiary's bank account," it said.

Advani said the Election Commission assured them of appropriate decision, keeping "all factors in mind".

The Congress has described the government's plan to directly transfer cash to social welfare beneficiaries as a "game changer" and a politically revolutionary step.

The opposition earlier attacked government for launching the scheme from the Congress office in New Delhi.

The BJP had also said that the slogan of the programme -- 'Janata ka paisa, janata ke haath' ('People's money in people's hand') -- was an indirect reference to the Congress' election symbol of a hand.