The Election Commission stumped the UPA government with a sudden poll announcement on Wednesday. The scheduled Cabinet meeting to announce more sops was cancelled and several ministers went in a tizzy to announce last-minute bonanza.
Sources revealed that the government was expecting a poll announcement on Thursday. But the EC advanced the announcement hours after the Prime Minister's return from Myanmar and thus prevented the Cabinet from announcing any further sops.
This, however, didn't deter the government, from still making a few announcements just before the model code of conduct came into force. The UPA government had kept officials on their toes in the past few days, asking them to clear a record number of backlog schemes and programmes.
Early on Wednesday morning, youth affairs and sports minister Jitendra Singh launched three projects, including swimming pools worth Rs 9.07 crore in three government stadiums in Delhi, the national cycling academy at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex and a community connect scheme to turn three city stadiums into sports-cum-recreation centers to let local people use them for recreation and overall health and fitness.
The rural development ministry, headed by Jairam Ramesh, also beat the model code of conduct in raising wages by 4 to 18 per cent under the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Programme. The ministry of road transport and highways, headed by Oscar Fernandes, also beat the Election Commission, when on Tuesday evening, Fernandes promised financial relief to private road contractors to stop them from walking out without completing the projects in their hand.
Other end-minute sops
Social justice and empowerment ministry decided to set up the Dr Ambedkar International Centre for Research, Oriental and Buddhist Studies and a public library at a cost of Rs 200 crore in New Delhi.
The ministry of minority affairs also announced a series of schemes and programmes for the betterment of minorities
Home ministry came out with a gazette notification on Wednesday reversing the possession of 123 Wakf properties in Delhi to the Delhi Wakf Board.