Government could have avoided direct cash scheme till Gujarat polls: Election Commission
The Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday seemed dissatisfied with the UPA Government's reply on its recent announcement of a direct cash transfer scheme and said the implementation of the scheme could have been avoided till the Gujarat assembly elections.
The three-member poll body headed by Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath discussed the issue in a meeting this morning and asked the government to postpone the implementation of the scheme in four districts of poll-bound Gujarat till the election process gets over.
The election commission's remark came a day after the government had replied to its notice questioning the timing of implementation of the scheme after a complaint filed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that the announcement of the scheme violates the model code of conduct in backdrop of Gujarat elections.
"Centre could have avoided announcement during the Gujarat polls keeping in mind the letter and spirit of the poll code," said the Election Commission.
However, according to news reports, the government has reiterated its stand that the scheme is an old one and it was announced before the notification of the Gujarat polls.
Union Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal yesterday said direct cash transfer is only an implementation of an announcement that has already been made by the then Finance Minster Pranab Mukherjee in March.
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 had earlier 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.