The caretaker government in Telangana wonâ€™t be able to distribute free sarees among poor women on the occasion of Bathukamma festival, as the Election Commission of India has barred it from doing so.
Bathukamma, a popular folk festival of Telangana, is celebrated by women during Dussehra festival time. After Telangana state was formed in 2014, the TRS government had declared it a state festival.
The government had last year started distribution of free sarees among women belonging to weaker sections on the occasion of Bathukamma. The programme was also aimed at providing work to the weavers in the state.
The ECI in a letter to the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Telangana on Wednesday said the commission has not granted permission to distribute the sarees on October 12. The ECâ€™s letter was in response to an earlier letter by the CEO in September seeking clarification if the caretaker government can distribute the sarees as the scheme was launched a year ago.
The EC decision to not allow the saree distribution comes as the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) has come into effect in Telangana. Under the MCC, prohibition has been set on the use of official resources for non-official purposes and combining official visits with electioneering work.
The state government intended to distribute over 95 lakh sarees from October 12 through the Public Distribution System (PDS). The sarees procured from Sircilla power loom cluster cost the state exchequer Rs 280 crore, with each saree costing Rs 290. More than half of the sarees have already been sent to the districts for distribution.
With the EC decision on Bathukamma sarees, the fate of distribution of sarees under Raythu Bandhu scheme in November also appears uncertain. The opposition parties had urged the Election Commission not to allow the distribution of sarees and cheques under the Rythu Bandhu scheme.