Model code violation: EC orders Telangana govt to stop disbursements under Rythu Bandhan Scheme

New Delhi: The Election Commission on Monday stopped the disbursement of Rythu Bandhu Scheme by Telangana government for violating the model code of conduct (MCC) and the conditions laid down while granting ‘no objection’.

The poll panel in an official order said that it has been informed on November 26 that T. Harish Rao, Minister of Finance and Heath and Family Welfare, Government of Telangana has made statements regarding the disbursement of Rythu Bandhu Scheme by a particular time before the date of poll, which was widely reported in newspapers and local media on Sunday.

“The Commission has observed that Rao, who is also a contesting candidate sponsored by the BRS Party from Siddipet Assembly Constituency in ongoing Assembly elections for Telangana 2023, a star campaigner of the party and also the Finance Minister of Telangana, has not only violated the provisions of MCC but also conditions laid down as above by publicising the release under the scheme, and thereby disturbed the level playing field in the on-going election process,” the Commission said.

“In the context as above of clear violation of Model Code of Conduct and conditions laid down while granting ‘no objection’, the Commission has directed that the permission granted vide its letter on November 25, 2023 for disbursement of Rabi season instalment under the ongoing Rythu Bandhu scheme during currency of MCC, shall stand withdrawn immediately and there shall be no disbursement under the Scheme till the Model Code of Conduct in the State of Telangana ceases to apply in all its form,” it said.

“The Commission decision shall immediately be conveyed to the Govt. of Telangana and compliance report taken and submitted to the Commission by Monday itself at 3 p.m.,” it added.

The decision of the poll panel came after it was noted that Rabi installments of Rythu Bandhu assistance were disbursed by the Telangana government during October-January in last five years and there is neither any fix date(s) of disbursement prescribed in the scheme, nor any special significance of disbursement in the month of November is assigned in design or performance of the scheme.

It said that the state government through its letter on November 18 had informed the Commission that the disbursement of Rythu Bandhu assistance was proposed from November 24 during the MCC period in the ongoing election process in full compliance with the conditions mentioned in the Commission’s letter dated October 5, 2018.

The Commission vide its letter of even no November 25 had given no objection for disbursement of Rythu Bandhu assistance in the State of Telangana with conditions that the Government of Telangana will follow the instructions contained in the Commission’s letter dated October 5, 2018 and no DBT assistance will be affected during the silence period and poll day in the state.

“Above said ‘no objection’ was granted, based on the premise that the said scheme is an on-going scheme and Rabi installments were disbursed during October-January in the past five years.

“Needless to say, that Model Code of Conduct is applicable in the State of Telangana and all concerned are required to comply with the Model Code of Conduct,” it added.

Polling for 119-member Telangana Assembly is scheduled on November 30 and counting of votes will take place on December 3.

IANS

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