Telangana polls: EC withdraws permission given to BRS to distribute funds under 'Rythu Bandhu' Scheme

The EC on November 24 had given a green signal to the state government to disburse the amount under Rythu Bandhu scheme, an investment support to farmers, before November 28.
hemin Joy
Last Updated : 27 November 2023, 04:03 IST
Last Updated : 27 November 2023, 04:03 IST

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New Delhi: The Election Commission on Monday withdrew its permission allowing the BRS-led Telangana government to disburse financial aid to farmers under the 'Rythu Bandhu Scheme' after Finance Minister T Harish Rao “violated” the Model Code of Conduct by making an announcement about handing over money to beneficiaries.

Telangana is going to polls on November 30 and Rao had announced that the disbursement of money will start on Monday, prompting the EC action for which the Congress held the BRS’s “irresponsible and narrow self-serving approach” as the reason.

BRS expressed “utter surprise” at the EC move and demanded that the permission be reinstated, as stoppage of funds could cause “irreparable loss” to the farmers.

In a letter to the EC, senior BRS MP K Keshava Rao claimed that Rao has not made any announcement about the disbursement of funds but only “thanked” the EC, which is an "inadvertent statement and nothing but an expression of gratitude”.

Congress General Secretary (Organisation) K C Venugopal said the BRS’ response “only confirms” the fact that Rao’s statements were the “sole reason” for the situation. “Their flimsy reasoning is not going to fool anyone, and blaming the congress is not going to absolve them either. After having admitted to their folly, they must immediately apologise to the farmers of Telangana for this egregious mistake,” he said.

The EC had on November 24 allowed the BRS government to disburse the rabi instalment during the campaigning period, as it was an ongoing scheme and it was distributed during October-January in the past five years.

However, it made it clear that the government should not make any public announcement about it. The EC had received a letter from the government seeking permission for the disbursement of funds on November 18 and it was cleared six days later.

“The Commission has observed that T Harish Rao has made statements regarding disbursement…by a particular time before the date of poll…(Rao) has not only violated the provisions of MCC but also conditions laid down…by publicising the release under the scheme, and thereby disturbed the level playing field in the ongoing election process,” the EC said.

It said its previous order on November 25 shall stand withdrawn immediately and there shall be no disbursement under the Scheme till the Model Code of Conduct in the State of Telangana ceases to apply in all its form.

It has asked the State Chief Electoral Officer to submit a compliance report by 3 pm on Monday. Rao was quoted as saying, “the disbursement will be made on Monday. Even before the farmers complete their breakfast and tea, the amount will be credited into their account.”

Seeking to corner the BRS, Venugopal also said the EC has denied the permission due to the “irresponsible and narrow self-serving approach” of the BRS and Harish Rao, under the instructions of “boss KCR (K Chandrasekhar Rao)”.

“The money is the right of the farmers. It is what they deserve for their year-long hard work. When this money is supposed to be released any time between October and January, it was the BRS’s desperation which compelled them to make such irresponsible statements. Yet another sin committed by the BRS, which will not be forgiven by the farmers of Telangana,” he said.

Congress General Secretary (Communications) Jairam Ramesh posted on 'X', “nobody else is to be blamed other than the ‘Gang of 4’ ruling Telangana, who in their desperation to hang onto power have ended up denying what is owed to farmers.”

“The Congress remains committed to fulfilling its Guarantee to the farmers of Telangana -- Rythu Bharosa 1) Rs15,000/acre to farmers 2) Rs 15,000/acre to tenant farmers 3) Rs 12,000 per year for agricultural labour. Not only that, we have promised up to Rs 2 lakh farm loan waiver to all farmers,” he added.

Published 27 November 2023, 04:03 IST

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