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EC stops Rs 14,000 cr DBT schemes of Jagan

EC stops Rs 14,000 cr DBT schemes of Jagan

In a new directive, the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced on Thursday that the Jagan Mohan Reddy government must halt the disbursement of Rs 14,000 crore to beneficiaries of various welfare schemes two days before the polling for the state assembly and Lok Sabha.

A communication from ECI official Sanjay Kumar to Chief Secretary K. S. Jawahar Reddy stated that the Commission had taken serious note of the planned transfer of Rs 14,165.66 crore to beneficiaries of various Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes on May 10 and 11. This comes despite the chief minister having released these amounts over the last four months.

For example, Rs 6,394 crore was released under the YSR Asara scheme by Jagan at the press of a button on January 23; Rs 78.53 crore was allocated under the YSR Kalyanamasthu and Shadi Tohfa schemes on February 28; Rs 708.68 crore was released under the Jagananna Vidya Deevena scheme on March 1; Rs 1,294.59 crore was allocated for farmers' input subsidies on March 6; Rs 5,060.49 crore was released under the YSR Cheyutha scheme on March 7, and Rs 629.37 crore under the YSR EBC Nestham scheme on March 14.

It is clear from the provided dates that these funds were announced and allocated in public functions before the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) was imposed on March 16, 2024, Kumar said.

He noted that, ideally, funds are transferred to beneficiaries within 24 to 48 hours under the DBT scheme.

However, various inputs and complaints suggest that the Jagan government did not transfer the funds through banks under the specified schemes, despite the DBT assistance being announced long before the MCC came into effect.

The Commission learned that the state government plans to disburse the funds to beneficiaries through banks on May 11 and 12, 2024, which is very close to the polling date of May 13.

“It may overlap with the 'Silence Period' under Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951,” Kumar said.

According to the MCC, the party in power, whether at the central or state level, should not use its official position for its election campaign.

“From the time elections are announced by the Commission, ministers and other authorities should not announce any financial grants or promises in any form,” he said.

The Commission concluded that disbursing money so close to the election, which should have been transferred long before the MCC was imposed, violates its provisions.

“Disbursing money at this stage has the potential to influence the level playing field and will benefit the party in power. However, eligible beneficiaries should not be deprived of the benefits for much longer, even though the state government delayed it by approximately five months,” Kumar said.

The Commission requested the government provide the factual status of these inputs to the ECI, along with clear reasons for the delay in actual fund transfers, by May 10, 2024.

The ECI also directed the government to ensure that these much-delayed transfers to banks for onward disbursement to beneficiaries should be delayed until the poll process concludes on June 6, 2024. To maintain fairness, any proposed transfers should be made after May 13, 2024.


Tags: Jagan Andhra Pradesh Election Commission