The Election Commission is examining whether the government can be asked to defer the process of implementation of the direct cash transfer scheme as there are complaints that the announcement is a violation of the model code of conduct and is an inducement to voters in Gujarat, which will have Assembly elections on December 13 and 17. It is even consulting legal experts on the matter.
“We are examining it and no final decision has been taken,” an EC official said, adding that a decision might be taken on Tuesday.
Though the government has argued that the scheme was announced on September 28, well before the Gujarat/Himachal Pradesh Assembly poll announcement (on October 3), and that the scheme will be implemented only on January 1, 2013, after the completion of the poll process (on December 24), a section of officials in the EC feels it can still be a violation of the code. The process of identifying the beneficiaries, helping them to open bank accounts and explaining the features of the scheme are being undertaken now, they say.
“This could still be considered as an inducement, as the pilot project will be implemented in 51 districts, including four in poll-bound Gujarat,” they said.
Meanwhile, replying to the details of the scheme, as sought by commission, the Secretaries of the Cabinet Secretariat and the Planning Commission said the scheme did not constitute a violation of the model code and had nothing that was not in the 2012-13 budget.
No announcement of any financial grant or a new promise in the nature of a financial benefit had been announced after the poll code came into force.