The government on Monday denied that it had violated the election code of conduct in connection with its ambitious direct cash transfer scheme because it was announced by former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee during this year’s budget speech.
“Direct cash transfer is only an implementation of an announcement that has already been made,” Kapil Sibal, telecom minister, said. The government would file a detailed reply to the election commission, he said.
Taking cognisance of BJP’s complaint, the commission had on Sunday conveyed its unhappiness to the government over announcement of the scheme when the model code was in force in Gujarat.
In a strongly-worded letter to cabinet secretary Ajit Seth, the commission said the announcement could have been avoided in view of the Gujarat assembly elections scheduled later this month.
Last week, finance minister P Chidamabaram and rural development minister Jairam Ramesh had launched the Aadhar-based direct cash transfer scheme and dubbed it a “game changer”.
Manish Tewari, information and broadcasting minister, asked the BJP to clarify its stand on the scheme.
Hitting back, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad asked the Congress to explain why the pilot project for direct cash transfer did not succeed in Rajasthan.
Objecting to Jairam Ramesh’s “aap ka paise aap ke haath” comment, BJP’s Venkaiah Naidu, quoting a World Bank study, said, “Only 32% people here have bank accounts. The government should first open banks before doing anything.”