In a boost to the ruling Congress-led UDF ahead of May 16 Assembly elections in Kerala, Election Commission has given its nod for implementing the free rice supply scheme which the state government had announced in its 2016-17 budget. The EC had earlier restrained the government from rolling out of the scheme under which 25 kg of free rice would be supplied to below poverty line (BPL) families from this month in the wake of the model code of conduct coming into force following announcement of the polls on March 4.
Clearing the decks for the scheme, the Commission, however, put a condition that no new persons should be added to the present list of beneficiaries, sources in the state Chief Electoral Officer’s office said.
The government proposal was to distribute free rice to families that come under BPL and also Antoyodaya Anna Yojana families through ration shops. EC had also said Ministers or MLAs should not take part in any ceremony for rice distribution, the sources said.
Upset by the EC’s order restraining it from implementing the scheme, the state government had last month appealed to the EC to permit it to go ahead with it, saying the decision to supply free rice was taken prior to announcement of polls. The government had also said it would explore legal options if the EC did not permit the scheme’s implementation.
The commission’s decision to lift the ban came yesterday a few hours after the state cabinet resolved to move the court if the clearance was not given.