Kerala Polls: Govt’s free rice scheme under EC scanner

RSTV Bureau
Oomen Chandy, Chief Minister, Kerala. Photo-Oommen_Chandy/Twitter.

Oomen Chandy, Chief Minister, Kerala.
Photo-Oommen_Chandy/Twitter.

Kerala government’s decision to distribute free rice to 20 lakh BPL families from April 1 is now questioned by the Election Commission as the model code of conduct for upcoming assembly polls is in place.

Kerala’s Chief Electoral Officer E K Majhi referred the matter to a committee headed by the state Chief Secretary P K Mohanty to examine whether the move is violative of the model code of conduct.

Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy in its budget speech announced the decision to provide 25 kg of rice to BPL families. The state Cabinet had last month approved the move to distribute rice from 1st April.

“The state government has not been asked to defer the implementation till elections are over but the issue has only been referred to the committee headed by the Chief Secretary for further consideration,” said the CEO office.

Though the decision was taken before the model code came into force, it is being implemented during the election period.

“The policy decision was taken much before the model code came into force. If the implementation is delayed, the state will approach the Election Commission,” said Anoop Jacob, State Food Minister.

In 2011, the Kerala High Court had set aside the Chief Electoral Officer’s order restraining the state government from implementing its decision to extend the scheme to distribute rice at Rs 2 a kg to families of the Above Poverty Line (APL) category subject to certain conditions.

Kerala will go for a single-phase poll on May 16.