Expressing unhappiness with the timing of the government’s announcement on the direct cash transfer scheme, which opposition parties say violated the model code of conduct prior to the Gujarat assembly polls, the election commission (EC) on Sunday sought a report from cabinet secretary Ajit Seth on the matter.
“We have asked the cabinet secretary to give us a factual report by Monday evening. If we do not get a reply, we will proceed with action,” a top EC official said.
In a strongly worded letter to Seth, the commission said that with Gujarat going to the polls on December 13 and 17, the announcement to roll out the scheme from January 1, 2013 could have been avoided.
On Thursday, the BJP’s Gujarat unit had petitioned the EC about a serious violation of the conduct code. Top party leaders, led by LK Advani, met chief election commissioner VS Sampath the following day to complain. The BJP also pointed out that four of the 51 target districts where the scheme would be implemented from January 1 are in Gujarat.
After Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chaired a meeting last Monday to give final shape to the cash transfer scheme — hailed by the UPA as a ‘game-changer’ — senior ministers P Chidambaram and Jairam Ramesh spelled out the details of the scheme from the party forum the next day.
Ramesh described the scheme as “aap ka paisa aapke haath” while Chidambaram hailed it as “magical” during an interaction with the media in Mumbai later.
The EC’s letter to the cabinet secretary is reportedly the second reminder.
Inputs from PTI