Direct cash transfer a bid to influence Gujarat voters: BJP

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BJP
New Delhi, Dec 1: The ruling UPA should not be allowed to influence voters by promising direct cash transfers in those states where the election process is yet to be completed, BJP leaders stressed.

Citing Finance Minister P Chidambaram's recent statement that direct cash transfer will be a "game-changer from the point of view of ordinary citizens of India", a memorandum presented by BJP to Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath noted: "Announcement of game-changer decisions are rarely timed without any expectation of a gain or major fallout."

The Centre's announcement that the direct cash transfer scheme will be implemented shortly in four districts of Gujarat is a "blatant violation" of the poll code since voters there will exercise their franchise within the next three weeks, the party said.

A delegation of BJP leaders including LK Advani, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj yesterday urged the Election 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."

Referring to the Model Code of Conduct, they pointed out that the poll code's Paragraph VII - Party in Power - (VI) (a) clearly bars the ruling party from announcing "financial grants in any form or promises thereof".

As for the government's averment that people will not be provided any new financial assistance under the direct cash transfer scheme, the BJP delegation said: "This is a weak defence seen in the backdrop of the packaging of the scheme in terms of promises and expectations of certain quantum of cash that will flow into every Aadhar registered beneficiary's bank account. Consequently, this decision does take the form of 'a financial grant IN ANY FORM or promises thereof' which is eschewed in the Model Code of Conduct."

The BJP leaders were of the opinion that Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat should have been excluded from the direct cash transfer in view of the ongoing election process in both states.

"The Election Commission's primary responsibility is to ensure free and fair elections. That is why they frame a code of conduct and Government should not make any announcement before or during elections that could influence voting or voters," Advani said.

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