The direct cash transfer scheme launched with much fanfare by the Congress-led UPA Government is fast turning into a political tussle with the main Opposition BJP terming it “bribery” of the voters and its chief ministers raising doubts about the Centre’s motive and the veracity of the scheme.
While Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh has already shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue, his counterparts in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Jagdish Shetter respectively, will also launch similar epistolary protests, BJP sources said.
However, the Prime Minister’s Office is paying little heed to Opposition’s protests or the critical view on the scheme from other quarters.
The PMO has written to various ministries and departments “to take immediate task to operationalise on priority the direct cash transfer for delivery of services to beneficiaries of social entitlements”.
This move follows the first meeting of the National Committee on DCT chaired by the Prime Minister on November 26. In a letter addressed to secretaries of the Union Government, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Pulok Chatterjee underlined the importance of the programme to the government.
The Congress and Finance Minister P Chidambaram have called the scheme a “game changer” -the next parliamentary elections obviously being the ‘game’.
From the PMO end, Chatterjee wrote to his fellow bureaucrats: “I would request you to get down to the immediate task of operationalising direct cash transfer in the identified schemes of your department. The emphasis should be on having a seamless and trouble-free rollout of the programme, first in 51 districts and subsequently as per the agreed rollout plan.”
As reported by Express, Chatterjee highlights the role of Technology Committee on DCT to work on the digitisation programme, whereby the beneficiaries of the scheme will be enlisted. The Financial Inclusion Committee of DCT, Chatterjee noted, will address the “accounting procedures required” and also locate “banking infrastructure” for making the scheme work. In all, Chatterjee’s latest letter gives away the government’s urgency to implement the scheme, without further delay or slippage.
“The main issue which you (the secretaries of the various ministries) need to focus on is ensuring that you have complete list of beneficiaries in digitised form seeded with Aadhaar numbers for your schemes.”
Digitisation of beneficiaries’ database is critical for rolling out the scheme. Therefore, Chatterjee calls for “maximum effort” to be put in at the state and district levels. Little wonder, the Congress is calling its district level leaders to Delhi for a DCT ‘sensatisation’ programme. They are expected to police the scheme from the political side.
Chatterjee directed the implementation Committees in each ministry to meet“on a weekly basis to complete the task” of digitisation.
In a letter to the UIDAI Chairman, the PMO has asked the Technology Committee to consider providing dedicated individuals to each of the implementing ministries.