The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will on Friday complain to the Election Commission against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s announcement on direct cash subsidy transfer scheme, saying it violates the code of conduct in view of the Gujarat elections.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist), too, has criticised the Congress for the “blatant misuse” of the party symbol in announcing the scheme.
Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh had announced the scheme for issue of scholarships and pensions by using Aadhar-enabled bank accounts for below poverty line families. To be implemented in 51 districts across 16 States from January 1, 2013, fertilizer and food subsidies have not been included in the list of cash transfers for now.
Addressing reporters here on Thursday, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said two senior Ministers had announced the scheme at the Congress headquarters on Monday even though Parliament was in session. He claimed that the party had been told that the scheme would now be implemented from April 1, next year, instead of January 1 as announced earlier.
“This only shows how hurriedly the whole exercise was done and without home work,” he said, adding that the BJP would totally oppose the scheme if it were to replace PDS.
Earlier in the day, senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said the Congress had used its party office and symbol to announce the scheme — it was a blatant misuse of the party symbol and could fall under corrupt practices.
According to Mr. Yechury, the announcement had come when the election process in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh was on. He referred to the Election Commission rules relating to offences and corrupt practices.
He said the direct cash transfer was being proposed to be carried out under the ‘Aadhar’ or Unique Identification (UID) card scheme but the Bill to give UID legal sanctity was yet to be passed by Parliament.
“The Parliamentary Standing Committee has rejected the UID Bill and asked the government to come up with a fresh one…When the Bill has not been approved, the announcement about it in the cash transfer scheme is more in the nature of propaganda. Without legal sanctity to this Bill, any such scheme will not be legal,” Mr. Yechury said.
Mr. Yechury said when inflation was high, the cash being transferred would actually cut subsidies and fetch lesser and lesser amounts of food grains or other essential items meant under the scheme.
The rules “are weighted against the poor, in favour of the UPA-II Government’s obsessive commitment to cut subsidies to the working people,” Mr. Yechury said, adding that it would ultimately reduce subsidy and dismantle the public distribution system.