The Centre on Monday informed the Election Commission (EC) that the direct cash transfer was not a new scheme and was announced in this year’s Budget proposals.
The EC had sent a strongly-worded letter to Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, seeking an explanation on why the government could not have waited till the conclusion of Gujarat polls to announce the scheme.
Four districts in Gujarat fall in the total 51, where the scheme would be first implemented. Opposing this, the BJP had petitioned the EC terming the scheme a bid to influence voters in the state.
The EC on Sunday had warned the government of “appropriate action”, if it did not reply to the letter by 5 pm on Monday.
In its reply, the Cabinet Secretariat told the poll panel that it had approached the Planning Commission for scheme details. The Commission provided details and claimed that “nothing new has been announced by the government”.
The Centre claimed the Budget speech in March by then Finance Minister “had outlined the success of several pilot projects across a number of states, relating to the Aadhar-based service delivery mechanism”.
“This only clearly established that the scheme had already been partially operationalised even prior to March 2012,” the government argued.
“The proposed pilot project in 51 districts is not a new scheme, but an extension of the pilot already in place,” the Plan panel had said.
These recommendations were accepted by the government in March and announced by then Finance Minister in his Budget speech.
The three-member poll panel on Monday discussed the matter, but deferred a decision on it. Sources said the EC might take a stand on Tuesday.
However, the BJP stuck to its position that the announcement “was a clear case of violation of the model code of conduct, which is in force in Gujarat”.