A UPA flagship intervention, the direct benefit transfer scheme is to be postponed by at least three months. Congress was eying the scheme as a trump card for the 2014 polls and wanted to see its implementation at the earliest.
Through this scheme, the centre government envisages to transfer the cash benefits of various schemes directly into the bank accounts of those who stand to benefit from this scheme. However, to realize its real objective, the scheme needs to be implemented in one go in the entire country.
However, if one goes by the estimates available, the scheme is moving at a slow pace and of the 43 districts in which it was implemented in January. The scheme covers subsidies under 26 distinct schemes of Government of India and is set to benefit the unprivileged lot of the country. The opposition parties have found a scoring point over the government and have been questioning the wisdom of UPA that had launched the scheme with much fanfare.
Congress party managers are hopeful that the scheme will start showing its imminent benefits soon enough to help the party leverage some mileage from the same and realize the benefits in time before the 2014 polls.
Rahul Gandhi is however quite hopeful about the outcomes of the scheme and hopes that the success of the scheme will not only guarantee the success of Congress in the coming polls but also create a positive atmosphere for the 2019 polls.
A number of obstacles block the progress of the Direct Cash Transfer scheme. Prime among these is the slow progress in delivery of Aadhaar cards. The same are mandatory as these link the benefits of the scheme directly with the bank account of the beneficiaries. However, with the Aadhaar card scheme itself coming under scanner, one wonders if the Direct Cash Transfer scheme will be able to realize its objectives in the established time frame.
A large number of states including Odisha, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are set to benefit from the scheme as these states are home to a large number of population that lives below the poverty line.
This is perhaps what explains the keenness of the Congress regime to see the implementation of the scheme at the earliest. Sensing the urgency, the PMO has convened the meeting of concerned authorities on 3rd March to review the progress of the scheme.
Perhaps, the need to showcase its presence for the coming polls and the criticism by the opposition parties is weighing high on the mind of Congress think tank and the same has got in a preparatory mode to review the progress of the scheme.
Meanwhile, analysts are sceptical about the scheme as chances of misappropriation of funds can also not be ruled out. With a record number of people to benefit from the scheme, chances are galore that some of them will try to take undue advantage of the various benefits that are to be derived from this scheme.
Much needs to be seen and all eyes will now be on the Prime Minister’s Office which has to make the final calling on this relevant issue that impacts the lives of millions.