Telangana Scheme For Dalits To Be Paused In Huzurabad Till Bypolls

The flagship Dalit welfare scheme was to be implemented for 100 most vulnerable families in each of the 119 assembly constituencies.

Dalit Bandhu Scheme was announced by KCR on pilot basis in Huzurabad. (File)

The Election Commission of India has told the Telangana government to pause the ''Dalit Bandhu'' scheme in Huzurabad Assembly constituency till the bypolls on October 30.

State Chief Electoral Officer Shashank Goel has communicated the directions to district officials in charge of conducting the election. "This has been done as the model code of conduct is now in place," Mr Goel said.

The Dalit Bandhu Scheme was announced by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on pilot basis in Huzurabad. Under this scheme, Rs 10 lakh is handed over to each beneficiary family to start a livelihood of their choice, so they can come out of the vicious cycle of poverty, according to the officials.

The Forum for Good Governance had questioned the announcement of the scheme for Huzurabad where by-elections were due. The government has already transferred Rs 2,000 crore for the implementation of the direct benefit transfer scheme and even the disbursal into individual accounts has reportedly happened.

Even as the Election Commission directions came, the state government issued orders releasing another Rs 250 crore under the scheme, of which Rs 100 crore would go to Madira constituency in Khammam, Rs 50 crore for Thungathurthi in Suryapet district and Rs 50 for Achampet Kalwakurthy in Kurnool district and another Rs 50 crore for Jukkal in Kamareddy mandal.

The flagship Dalit welfare scheme was to be implemented for 100 most vulnerable families in each of the 119 assembly constituencies.

Following the announcement, there have been demands from other groups, including Muslims, for implementation of a similar scheme for Muslims, ST, BCs.

Critics have alleged that KCR makes grand promises but fails to keep them, pointing out that he had promised to make a Dalit the first chief minister of Telangana but did not do that. He had also promised three acres to every landless family but has not moved forward on the promise, they have said. 

Speaking on Monday at the TRS party office where former TDP minister belonging to SC community, Motkupalli Narsimhulu joined the TRS, the Chief Minister said Dalit Bandhu scheme would eventually be extended to ST, financially poor and economically bacward BC and even upper caste.

The scheme will entail expenditure of Rs 1.7 lakh crore over the next seven years. "Over the next seven years, Telangana will spend Rs 23 lakh crores. So Rs 1.7 lakh crore won't be a challenge," KCR said.

He also insisted that he had not launched it for political benefit and that it would become a role model for other states. Some leaders had reportedly suggested that KCR's photo should be on the projects implemented under the scheme but KCR said he was not looking for political mileage but financial empowerment of the poorest section.

"There are 75 lakh SCs in the state but they own only 13 lakh acres whereas even the STs who comprise nine per cent of the population own 25 lakh acres. That's why the scheme started with the Dalits," the Chief Minister said.

The bypoll in Huzurabad is happening as the seat fell vacant after the resignation of Eatala Rajender who was the Health Minister in the TRS government and was removed after allegations of land-grabbing.

Mr Rajender, who dismissed the allegations, quit the TRS and joined the BJP and is now seeking re-election on a BJP ticket. 

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