Withhold Dalit Bandhu scheme until Huzurabad bypoll: ECI to Telangana govt

Hyderabad: Putting a spanner in Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s (KCR) plans, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Monday directed the state government to stop the Dali Bandhu scheme’s implementation until the Huzurabad bypoll is over on October 30.

The ECI in a letter to the Telangana chief electoral officer (CEO) Shashank Goel on Monday asked the latter to defer the implementation of the Dalit Bandhu scheme “in all forms” until the Huzurabad by-election is completed. Under the new direct beneficiary transfer (DBT) programme, KCR has promised to give each eligible Dalit beneficiary Rs 10 lakh to help them financially. The money could be used to set up any business of their choice as well.

In fact, chief minister KCR had chosen the poll bound Huzurabad assembly constituency as a pilot for the Dalit Bandhu scheme and even released Rs 2,000 crore as funds to start implementation of the programme there. Subsequently, four more mandals in four other reserved (SC) seats were also chosen for the pilot as well.

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The upcoming Huzurabad by-election on October 30 is mostly touted to be a direct contest between the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and ex-TRS health minister Eatala Rajender, who is currently with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In the upcoming Huzurabad bypoll, which will be held on October 30, the TRS’s candidate is local partyman Gellu Srinivas Yadav, who will be facing-off BJP’s Eatala Rajender. In the previous 2018 state elections, Rajender secured 104469 votes, with Congress candidate P. Kaushik Reddy getting 60604 votes.

The BJP’s Raghu Puppala got a paltry 1670 votes. In the 2018 state elections, the BJP also won just one out of 119 seats. However, things are very different now, as Kaushik Reddy has joined the TRS, and is waiting for his MLC nomination to be cleared by Telangana’s governor Tamilisai Soundararajan. 

For Eatala Rajender, the bypoll is also a prestige issue, given that he is a former aide of KCR, and an ex-TRS minister. Rajender was sacked from the Telangana cabinet in May this year after lang-grabbing allegations surfaced against him. He then quit as an MLA and joined the BJP in June. A win for him will be a big slap on the face for KCR, and will also give a boost to the BJP, which has been staking claim as the main opposition party in the state, a position which the Congress held naturally until recently.

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