The direct cash transfer (DCT) scheme launched with much fanfare by the UPA Government is fast turning into a political tussle point with the main Opposition BJP terming it as ‘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 protests soon.
However, the Prime Minister’s Office is paying little heed to Opposition protestations or the critical view on the scheme from other quarters. The PMO has written to various ministries and departments “to take immediate task in operationalising on priority the DCT scheme for delivery of services to beneficiaries of social entitlements”.
This move follows the first meeting of the National Committee on DCT, chaired by the PM on November 26.
In a letter addressed to Secretaries of the Union Government,Pulok Chatterjee, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, underlined the importance of the programme to the government.
The Congress and Finance Minister P Chidambaram have called the scheme a v“game changer” - the next parliamentary elections obviously being the ‘game’.
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.”
Chatterjee’s latest letter gives away the government’s urgency to implement the scheme.
In a separate letter to the UIDAI Chairman, the PMO has asked the Technology Committee to consider providing dedicated individuals to each of the implementing ministries.
The UPA Government seems to be in a now-or-never mood.