The Election Commission Tuesday asked the government to put on hold the scheme of direct cash transfer in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat until elections there ended.
In a strongly worded letter to Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, the panel expressed "concern over such 'announcement'" and said it "expects that such announcements during Model Code of Conduct operation are avoided".
In a statement on its website, the panel said the government's answer giving details of the Aadhaar-based Direct Cash Transfer scheme was "silent with regard to the justification sought by the Commission as to the necessity of announcement of the scheme at this juncture, when the model code of conduct is in operation in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh".
The Commission said it was not going into the merits of the policy decision but its concern was to see if such an announcement would have any impact on the elections and "whether it will disturb the level playing field".
It said that while "taking into consideration the chronology of milestones of the scheme, the Commission is of the considered opinion that the aforesaid announcement was avoidable during the currency of the election process going by the letter and spirit of the Model Code of Conduct.
"The Commission directs that all follow up and consequential steps towards implementation of the scheme in respect of the four districts in Gujarat and the two districts in Himachal Pradesh, which are proposed to be covered in the first phase of implementation of the scheme, shall be kept in abeyance till completion of the election process in the two states."
The Commission had on Sunday conveyed its unhappiness to the government over announcement of its direct cash transfer scheme when the model code was in force in poll-bound Gujarat.
The scheme was launched Nov 26 at the Congress headquarters here.
The Planning Commission Monday provided details of the scheme and claimed that nothing new has been announced by the government.
The Gujarat assembly polls are to be held Dec 13 and 17. The Himachal Pradesh polls were held last month. The votes cast in both elections will be counted Dec 20.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had complained to the poll panel about the announcement.