New Delhi, Dec 3: Under fire from the Election Commission on the direct cash transfer issue, government on Monday told the poll body that there was nothing new in the scheme which is part of this year’s budget proposals.
Faced with a 5 p.m. deadline from the EC for a response, the Planning Commission provided details of the scheme and claimed that nothing new has been announced by the government.
The Plan Panel’s note was preceded by a brief communication to the EC from the Cabinet Secretariat stating that they had referred the matter to the Planning Commission for detailed inputs.
The EC had warned of an appropriate action if the government’s reply to its letter did not come by the deadline.
The three-member poll body headed by Chief Election Commissioner V. S. Sampath on Monday discussed the matter but deferred a decision on it.
The EC had on Sunday sent a reminder to the Cabinet Secretary expressing its displeasure as the government had failed to reply to the poll body’s notice a day before.
The election body had also conveyed unhappiness to the Centre over the announcement of its direct cash transfer scheme when the Model Code in poll-bound Gujarat is in force and had sought a report by this evening.
In a strongly-orded letter to Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, the EC had expressed its unhappiness over the timing of the announcement by the Government and said it could have been avoided in view of the Gujarat Assembly elections later this month.
Four of the 51 districts in which the cash transfer scheme is to be implemented from January 1 next fall in Gujarat.
Gujarat goes to polls on December 13 and 17.
Defending the government’s action, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said it had not violated any election code of conduct in connection with its ambitious direct cash transfer scheme as it was announced in the budget speech by the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.