Congress announcing a monthly allowance to school-going children under 'Padho-Padhao Yojana' in Madhya Pradesh has sparked controversy due to the ambiguities surrounding the announcement as well as the implementation of the Model Code of Conduct.
In a rally in Mandala on Thursday (12 October), Congress national general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had concluded her address but was asked by former Chief Minister Kamal Nath to make one more announcement.
She then asked Nath to speak instead but he insisted on Vadra to make the announcement (as understood from the visuals). Then she announced a yearly allowance for school-going children but was then asked by Randeep Surjewala to correct it to monthly.
Vadra pointed out that "yearly" is written in the speech but then corrects herself to say, "Children from classes 1 to 8 will get Rs 500 monthly, classes 9 and 10 Rs 1,000 monthly and classes 11 and 12 Rs 1,500 monthly."
Chief Minister Shivraja Singh Chouhan too highlighted this confusion on the Congress stage and said, “Earlier the Gandhi family cheated everyone, but Kamal Nath is now cheating the Gandhi family."
"Just imagine, they first write something..and ask her to read..see their seriousness..then change it from ‘per year’ to ‘per month’. They don’t intend to do anything, neither to give nor to take,” he further alleged.
The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) legal cell has filed a complaint with the Election Commission regarding the said announcement. The complaint states that the announcement, made after the implementation of the Model Code of Conduct, falls under the category of inducement.
The complainant, lawyer Pankaj Vadhwani, stated, "The plan mentioned by Priyanka Gandhi is for government school children or also for private schools is not clear. It has not been explicitly stated. Priyanka made this announcement only to influence the voting."
Vadhwani has submitted the recording of Priyanka's speech and other documents in the complaint. He said that such a new announcement cannot be made during the Model Code of Conduct, according to Amar Ujala.
Suggesting that this is a violation of the Model Code of Conduct, he has filed an online complaint with the Election Commission. He has also demanded an investigation and action in this matter from the Commission.
It should also be noted that this kind of freebie is first of its kind as cash dole-outs for minors were unheard of until now and it could prove to be a heavy burden on the state's exchequer as explained here.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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