PMO pushes cash transfer, BJP cries foul

FP

Top BJP leaders requested the Election Commission Friday to direct the government to withdraw its direct cash transfer announcement, alleging the move had the "sinister intention" of influencing voters in Gujarat.

The plea from the opposition party came even as the Prime Minister's Office instructed ministries to take up the scheme on priority and ensure "seamless and trouble-free roll-out" for individual beneficiaries.

Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Pulok Chatterji told the nine ministries whose schemes are being covered under the programme that they must ensure they are ready with the full list of beneficiaries in digital form before the roll-out date of January 1, 2013, while bottlenecks such as the banking infrastructure are cleared by the technical committees.

"I would request you to get down to the immediate task of operationalising direct cash transfers in the identified schemes in your department. The emphasis should be on having a seamless and trouble-free roll-out of the programme, first in the 51 districts and subsequently as per the agreed roll-out plan," Chatterji wrote in his letter. "Concerns relating to availability of banking infrastructure for making this work and the financial and accounting procedures required would be addressed by the financial inclusion and technology committee."

The BJP, however, has taken strong objection to the push, saying the move could "well have been made after the completion of the election process in Gujarat" where four districts — Mehsana, Valsad, Anand, Bhavnagar — will be covered in the first phase of 51 districts.

"But it appears to be the sinister intention of the government to use this for influencing the voters in Gujarat. Consequently, we would urge the commission to take serious note of this blatant violation of the model code of conduct. We request the commission to direct the government to withdraw the announcement and defer it to an appropriate time after the completion of the election process in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh," said the BJP memorandum to the commission.

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