Eyeing cash transfer scheme election dividend, Congress pressurises a dithering BJP

Agencies Posted: Dec 03, 2012 at 1443 hrs
New Delhi With cash transfer scheme set to birth a huge gain for Congress in the upcoming elections at the state and Central levels, BJP is caught in a huge dilemma, a veritable Catch-22 situation.

The Congress and the BJP today traded barbs over the government\'s direct cash transfer scheme after the Election Commission sought a reply from the Centre on the timing of the announcement.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said the government would provide information to the EC and asked the BJP to make clear its stance on the scheme.

"The BJP should make its position clear on cash transfers. Are they for cash transfers or are they against it.

Do they want that the money of the people should go directly into the hands of the people or they do not want the money of the people to go to the people, this is the germane issue," Tewari told reporters here.

"If the Election Commission has asked the government for a clarification or for some sort of an explanation, I am sure that the appropriate part of the government would provide that information to the Election Commission," Tewari said.

BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad hit back by questioning the Congress\' seriousness on the issue.

"Is the Congress serious about it? Have they done their homework well?" Prasad asked and said that his party had formed a committee to study the entire matter and would revert on the matter after that.

He, however, said that BJP was not for abolition of the Public Distribution System and also questioned why the pilot project for direct cash transfer scheme in Rajasthan did not succeed.

"But one thing is very clear and categorical. If this means the abolition of Public Distribution System, BJP is opposed to it because states like Madhya Pradesh, states like Chattisgarh....Bihar and others have done so well. By the way let Manish Tewari respond to one thing, the fanfare with which it (cash transfer scheme) was inaugurated in Rajasthan, why it has come a cropper," Prasad asked.

BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu sought to know whether the direct cash transfer scheme is of the government or the Congress party.

"The Congress is asking BJP about its stand on the cash transfer scheme. Before answering that question I would like the Congress to explain to the people of the country what is it the way to deal with a government scheme and public money?" Naidu told reporters outside Parliament.

After the government's decision on cash transfer scheme on November 26, two senior ministers spelled out the details of the scheme from the party forum next day.

"Ministers go to the Congress party office and make announcement there and also say that the scheme would be supervised by Congress general secretary. So we want to know whether it is a Congress party scheme or government of India scheme," he said, adding when Parliament session is on, government should take Parliament into confidence.

Objecting to the minister's "aap ka paise aap ke haath" statement, BJP leader said if it is a government scheme then how is the Congress trying to politicise it. They have also called the district party presidents to Delhi and told them how to take advantage of the scheme."

He said, "Even the pilot project in a Rajasthan district is not working. The District Magistrate is saying cash has not been transferred."

On his party's stand, he said, "We do not oppose the scheme. But we want to know the rules and regulations of the implementation scheme and about the preparedness and logistic support of the scheme. We are studying the scheme and then make our stand known"

Naidu said Adhaar card is not ready in half of the country.

"The distribution of Adhaar card in not complete in the 51 target districts where the scheme would be implemented," he said.

Quoting a World Bank study, Naidu said, "Only 32 per cent people here have bank accounts. Then how do you transfer the cash in their accounts when there are no accounts at all. In India most villages do not have banks. So, government should first open banks and facilitate opening of accounts before doing anything."