Gogoi’s dole politics under court glare

What is the guideline for selecting beneficiaries, Gauhati High Court asks Dispur

By Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, Dec 3: In what could be a setback to Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's plan to dole out cash and other incentives to beneficiaries under the guise of a slew of special schemes ahead of the assembly elections, the Gauhati High Court on Thursday sought to know the guidelines for beneficiary selection for the schemes announced earlier this year.

The schemes - estimated at Rs 862 crore - relate to distribution of yarn/ blanket, old age pension, fincial assistance to widows, artisans, SHGs, unmarried women, erosion-hit people, homeless people, weavers, small and margil farmers etc. The schemes were part of Gogoi's 2015-16 budget provisions.

Separate committees have been constituted at the constituency and district level for selection of beneficiaries. The committees include ministers or their representatives, panchayat members, legislators besides government officials.

The Assam Public Works had filed a petition at the Gauhati High Court, apprehending that the selection of beneficiaries could be on political lines as there was no set guideline for the procedure. "No advertisements were given calling for applications from prospective beneficiaries. There has been lack of transparency in the exercise," the petitioner's lawyer senior advocate Debojit Saikia said.

A division bench of Chief Justice (acting) T Vaiphei and Justice LS Jamir today issued notice to the State government seeking the guidelines for beneficiary selection and other related documents by December 8. The petitioner has made the Congress, BJP, AGP and AIUDF respondents besides the State government, contending that there are members from the political parties at the panchayats who are also part of the beneficiary selection procedure.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the State government is in the process of procuring materials that will be distributed among the beneficiaries. The government intends to complete the implementation of the schemes by February, before the model code of conduct for election is expected to kick in, sources said.

The High court has, however, not stayed implementation of the schemes.

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