New Delhi: The Election Commission will decide on Tuesday whether the government violated the rules by announcing a major welfare scheme ahead of the Assembly elections in Gujarat.
The BJP has complained that the time of the announcement of the direct cash transfer scheme violates the model code of conduct, which kicks in as soon as elections are announced and forbids contesting parties and candidates from making announcements that could influence voters in their favour.
However, the government, in its letter to the election commission said the scheme was announced months ago when former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee presented the last Union budget.
On Monday, defending the announcement of the scheme, information and broadcasting minister ManishTewari said: "If I was to recollect correctly, I think the former finance minister in his budget speech on the 16th of March 2012, para-23, 24, 25, 26, if I remember correctly had possibly dealt extenso with the entire issue of cash transfers."
"I think there was also some press release by the government on the 28th of September 2012 on the same issue," he said.
Gujarat goes to polls on December 13 and 17 and the cash transfer scheme is meant to be implemented from January 1.
Starting with 51 districts across the country, including four in Gujarat, the government plans to replace subsidized items with direct deposits in the bank accounts of beneficiaries.
However, only those with a Unique ID (UID) number and a bank account will be eligible for the cash transfers.