The Kerala high court on Monday set aside the Election Commission’s decision to stop the ‘Rs 2 one kg rice scheme’ much to the jubilation of the ruling left front.
The EC had stopped the scheme two weeks back saying it would influence voters in the April 13 assembly elections.
Rajaji Mathew T Thomas, an LDF legislator, had moved the court saying the scheme was announced much before the announcement of the election schedule. He also contended that the government was implementing its policy decision to reduce the prices of essential commodities in a phased manner.
He said the EC’s directive would affect the poor, the main beneficiaries of the scheme.
The Election Commission, however, submitted before the court that the implementation of the scheme after the announcement of the poll was a clear violation of model code of conduct. What the commission really objected to was the selection of fresh beneficiaries after the announcement of the poll.
Till February this year, the scheme was only for BPL card holders but it was extended to all cardholders just three days before the poll code of conduct came in force on March 1.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice J Chelemeswar and Justice Ramachandra Menon observed that poor could not punished in the name of elections. It also accepted the petitioner’s plea that the scheme was implemented much before the announcement of election schedule.
Facing rough weather in the upcoming assembly elections, this verdict will be a major poll issue for the ruling LDF.
“We will expose the Congress-led UDF’s bid to sabotage the scheme. It is a major setback for it,” said state finance minister Thomas Issac, who introduced the scheme. He said all cardholders would get their quota in a week’s time.