ECI stops volunteers from disbursing social welfare pensions in AP; parties play blame game

For election duties, volunteers across AP were given cell phones, SIM cards, fingerprints and family information books by State Government

By Sistla Dakshina Murthy  Published on  1 April 2024 12:24 PM GMT
ECI stops volunteers from disbursing welfare pensions to elderly; parties play blame game

Vijayawada: Politics in Andhra Pradesh are centered around the State Government’s ward and village volunteers, who were recently prohibited by the Election Commission (ECI) from performing their duties, which included paying benefits such as welfare pensions to the elderly.

Volunteers’ equipment submitted to ECI

The volunteers across AP were given cell phones, SIM cards, fingerprints and family information books by the State Government almost four-and-a-half-years ago for carrying out their duties. However, once the ECI passed the order, the officials of the respective districts ordered the volunteers to submit their equipment to them.

As instructed by the ECI, with volunteers prohibited from disbursing welfare benefits, the distribution of welfare pensions to the elderly in the state came to a halt.

Tactical political advantage

In light of the State Assembly and Lok Sabha elections scheduled for May 13, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) are using the issue to slander each other for their political careers.

The TDP took action through a delegation of party leaders, headed by Varla Ramaiah, who called on the chief Secretary Dr KS Jawahar Reddy and sought him to distribute the welfare pension to the beneficiaries at their doorstep before April 5.

Why did EC stop volunteers from distributing pensions in AP?

Citizens for Democracy - a civil organisation - general secretary and former state election commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar recently knocked on the doors of the EC and reportedly complained that the YSRCP government is utilising the services of the village and ward volunteers for the political gains ahead of the upcoming elections in the state.

Taking the complaint seriously, the EC stopped the volunteers from providing welfare benefits and pensions to the beneficiaries in the state. With a lot of misinformation being spread about the issue, all parties have come forward to cast allegations on each other.

Naidu blames Jagan for emptying state’s treasury

TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu on Monday alleged that the State Government has completely failed in its pension distribution campaign. During a teleconference with the party cadres, Naidu stated that the YSRCP is blaming the TDP and the EC for its inability to pay pensions on time.

“We didn’t request anyone to delay the state’s pension distribution. To reveal the YSRCP’s shortcomings, the cadre should knock on every door. YS Jagan bankrupted the state and the treasury is facing difficulty in paying welfare pensions to the elderly,” the TDP chief said.

Sharmila criticises YSRCP, seeks CS intervention

Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president YS Sharmila, who was in New Delhi after participating in the party’s Central Election Committee (CEC), said that the delay is intentional.

“The YSRCP government is intentionally delaying the distribution of welfare pensions to the beneficiaries in the state. People are being told that the delay is due to the Opposition. The EC mandated the pension amount to be directly deposited into the beneficiary’s DBT account. Why will it take 10 days to finish a task that only takes one day? The chief secretary must take the lead and distribute it via DBT (Direct Benefit Scheme) right away. Should that not be the case, Congress will protest,” Sharmila said.

YSRCP lashes out at TDP for complaining to EC about volunteers

Responding to the allegations from the Opposition, YSRCP general secretary Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy said, “Chandrababu Naidu has given us a trailer of the disaster that will happen if he is voted to power. ‘Citizens for Democracy’ is Chandrababu’s B-team that complained to the EC about the volunteers. Their main intention is to undermine the volunteer system. Chandrababu intends to cause damage to the state indirectly through the organisation so that people won’t know it was him.”

Ramakrishna Reddy further said that the elderly people who were receiving pensions from the YS Jagan government for the last four-and-a-half years are now in trouble.

“By this anti-people move, Naidu has proven how a disaster would unfold if at all he comes to power, even by fluke. Is this their idea of revenge? Is this how a political party should act? Before the elections start, Chandrababu is showing his true colours to the people. Everyone should take note of this,” he said.

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