The Election Commission on Tuesday directed the Union government to keep in abeyance all “follow-up and consequential steps” towards the implementation of the Aadhar-based direct cash transfer scheme in four districts of Gujarat and two of Himachal Pradesh till the Assembly elections are completed in these States.

The six districts are proposed to be covered in the first phase of the implementation of the scheme.

While Himachal Pradesh will go to the polls on November 4, polling will be held in Gujarat on December 13 and 17.

“It was avoidable”

In a letter to the Cabinet Secretary, a copy of which was marked to the Secretary of the Planning Commission, the Election Commission said the announcement was avoidable during the election process going by the letter and spirit of the model code of conduct.

Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath and Election Commissioners H.S. Brahma and S.N.A. Zaidi, who considered the replies of the two officials to the communication the Commission had issued seeking details of the scheme, felt they were silent on the justification for the necessity of the announcement when the model code of conduct was in operation in the two States.

The Commission said its consistent policy was not to go into the merits of the government’s policy decisions. “The Commission’s concern is only to see whether any such policy decision, or announcement thereof, will have any impact on the election, if it is in progress, and whether it will disturb the level playing field among political parties and candidates in the fray. In the instant case also, the Commission’s concern is limited to the above issue.”