Election commission lifts ban on free rice supply in Kerala

Election commission had restrained the govt from rolling out of the scheme under which 25 kg of free rice would be supplied to below poverty line families


Election commission has put a condition that no new person should be added to the present list of beneficiaries of free rice supply scheme. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Election commission has put a condition that no new person should be added to the present list of beneficiaries of free rice supply scheme. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Thiruvananthapuram: In a boost to the ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) ahead of 16 May Assembly elections in Kerala, election commission (EC) 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 4 March.

Clearing the decks for the scheme, the EC, however, put a condition that no new person should be added to the present list of beneficiaries, people familiar with the matter from 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 people in the know with the matter 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.