UPA may make cash transfer a poll plank
Feels scheme could help counter corruption charge
The UPA government is likely to make direct cash transfer scheme a major issue in the 2014 elections.
A clear indication came on Friday when party leader Rahul Gandhi, at a meeting of Congress leaders from those 51 districts where the scheme is to be launched on January 1, 2013, termed ‘Aapka Paisa Aapke Haath’ (your money in your hands) as the political slogan for the flagship programme and vowed to see its rollout across the country before 2014 polls.
"Rahul Gandhi said ‘Aapka Paisa Aapke Haath’ is definitely a political slogan. We will definitely take this scheme forward before 2014 polls," Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh told journalist after the meeting.
When asked whether it was the party’s political plank for 2014 polls, party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, who shared the dais with Ramesh at the press conference, maintained “There will be people who could dub it a "political slogan, but for us it is a scheme for the welfare of the people".
As the UPA government has been under attack on the issue of corruption, the Congress feels that the scheme that seeks to take the benefits of various welfare programmes directly in the hands of their beneficiaries will help it counter the Opposition charge. “It (scheme) is a powerful weapon of the Congress and the UPA government led by it to fight corruption. Aap Ka Paisa Apke Haath is an example of the fact that information communication technology would play a major role in our fight against corruption,” Gandhi told the party leaders.
The meeting was attended by 170 leaders of the party including Finance Minister P Chidambaram and district Congress presidents of those 51 districts where the first phase of the flagship scheme will be launched next year.
In 2009 general elections, the party’s political planks were National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and loan waivers scheme of the farmers.
The party general secretary, who is set to take up a prominent role in the organisation soon in the run-up to the 2014 polls, said the flagship programme was not only a scheme but a “fundamental transformation of delivery system”. The party, which has been accused by the BJP of offering “bribe” to voters, has rechristened the name of the programme as ‘Direct Benefit Transfer’. Chidambaram had then also described it as “game changer”.
At the meeting, Gandhi asked the party leader from 51 districts to contribute creatively to convey the message of the Congress to the people and help them in getting UID numbers for realising benefits of the programme. “It has been our effort that when important decisions are made, there should be coordination between the party and the government. This is done everytime when flagship programmes are executed,” the minister said.
When asked, Jairam said LPG cylinder, kerosene and fertilizers will also be brought under the direct cash transfer scheme but the process will take at least one year. He, however, made it clear that giving subsidy on food through the scheme was not in the government’s present agenda.