Sharad Pawar puts foot down, says no cash transfer
DNA Research N Archives / Yogesh Pawar / Wednesday, December 26, 2012 7:34 IST
In what is bound to raise the hackles of the Congress, NCP chief and union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has opposed the UPA government’s plan to disburse cash to the poor based on Aadhar cards. He was addressing a massive women’s rally organised by his party in Amravati on Monday.
The scheme, which Sonia Gandhi has herself pushed in public, has been touted by the Congress as a fix for leakages of subsidies to families below the poverty line (BPL). There are several critics of the scheme, but Pawar, whose party is a partner in the UPA government, has voiced his opposition openly for the first time.
“We will not be a party to the implementation of something so many poor in this country don’t want,” he said, to resounding cheers from the predominantly tribal and Dalit gathering. DNA had reported on Monday how the Maharashtra government continues to use a 2002 list that does not have over 50 lakh people who are below the poverty line, earning barely enough to afford even one meal. This is despite the fact that gram sabhas, civic councils and corporations have submitted fresh lists for 2012.
Many organisations working with the poor on the right to food have criticised the direct cash transfers. “Based on old lists, half the poor will be written off,” said Kishore Tiwari of the Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti. He welcomed Pawar’s position.
Tiwari said Sharad Pawar’s announcement opposing the direct cash transfer in PDS had come like a bolt from the blue. “He is known for his stance against farmers and the poor while favouring MNCs and market forces. So his opposition is a surprise, as many private players are promoting the direct cash transfer scheme,” Tiwari said. “Pawar’s stand will certainly have larger implications for the UPA, as the Congress will not like to be painted as the villain by the NCP in the run-up to 2014.”
The samiti had written to Pawar about the proposed direct cash transfer scheme and the adverse effect it would have on 10 million tribals and the poor. It warned that if the scheme was implemented in Vidarbha it would also lead people to indulge in massive deforestation to survive. “Reducing kerosene quota will lead to large-scale felling of forests. The scheme has not worked for 25,000 households in Kotkasim, a block in Rajasthan’s Alwar district,” Tiwari said. “Our experience has been that beneficiaries will not be able to access the accounts in which the government transfers the money. There are instances where wages under MGNREGA and pension to old widows does not reach them. So what’s the guarantee that cash transferred to beneficiary accounts will be utilised for the same purpose?
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