Cash transfer scheme: BJP welcomes EC's move to seek Cabinet Secretary's reply
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday welcomed the Election Commission's move to call the Cabinet Secretary and seek an explanation on the Centre's move to announce the direct cash transfer scheme when the Model Code in poll- bound Gujarat is in force.
"Today's decision of the Election Commission to call the Cabinet Secretary is a good decision and welcome decision because we had already said that this cash transfer is neither a new scheme, there is not an additionality or any new subsidy given to the poor," said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar.
"Already many states are giving through banks and implementing cash transfers for years together. Even in Gujarat and other states, pensions, scholarships and 'Indira Awaas' funds go directly to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries. So, there is nothing new," he added.
Javadekar further questioned the timing of announcing the direct cash transfer scheme, and accused the ruling Congress Party of attempting to gain political mileage in upcoming Gujarat assembly polls.
"Why the government made such a big announcement from Congress Headquarters? Because they wanted to impact the Gujarat elections; they don't understand that the people of Gujarat are happy with the BJP Government led by Narendra Modi and so Congress has no chance," said Javadekar.
"Just to gain political mileage they announced it mid-way and that is why we complained and that complain has been taken cognisance of. We are happy," he added.
The Election Commission, which has conveyed its unhappiness to the government over the announcement of its direct cash transfer scheme, has sought a report on the issue by Monday evening.
The Election Commission has in a strongly worded letter to Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth expressed its unhappiness over the timing of the announcement by the Centre, and said it could have been avoided in view of the Gujarat assembly polls later this month.
Senior BJP leaders, led by Lal Krishna Advani, had moved the Election Commission earlier on Friday to protest against the government's decision to announce the direct cash transfers scheme meant to replace subsidies for below-poverty line (BPL) families as well as other beneficiaries.
The BJP petitioned the Election Commission of India, and asked it to direct the government to 'withdraw' the announcement till the completion of the election process in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
Advani after the meeting said that the BJP conveyed its concern to the Election Commission that the government should not make such announcements once election dates have been declared for it will have an impact on the upcoming polls and influence the voters.
"The cash transfer scheme that was announced a few days ago should be for the entire country, but they should have excluded the states where elections are due to be held. This is to be implemented for January 1 next year, but if you make the announcement earlier it will benefit the ruling party at the Centre," he added.
Gujarat goes to polls in two phases on December 13 and 17 and the Model Code is in force in the state. Incidentally, four of the 51 districts in which the cash transfer scheme is to be implemented from January 1 fall in Gujarat.
The government earlier on Tuesday furnished the outline of its ambitious direct cash transfer scheme, with Finance Minister P. Chidambaram terming it as a big 'game changer'.
According to the government, almost Rs 3,20,000 crore cash transfer scheme will be launched in stages and cover the entire country by the end of 2013.