Hyderabad: As the battlelines are being prepared for the Munugode byelection, officials appeared to be under immense pressure to implement the Dalit Bandhu scheme in “saturation mode”, encompassing the SC population in the constituency.
Only 38 households of the 100 identified beneficiaries were covered under the scheme so far. The TRS seeks to target the almost 40,000 Dalit voters in the constituency and hoped that their support would tip the scales in its favour, sources said.
The government was getting ready to push the idea of including the entire SC population under the scheme, according to official sources, even though only one village was covered as a “pilot project” till now, and ensure nearly all the families belonging to the SCs became beneficiaries. “The scheme will be implemented in the entire constituency and will be covered in saturation mode,” said an official of the SC Corporation.
Jamastanpally, a hamlet with a population of about 1,200 and located 5 km from Munugode town, was the first area to be covered. Around 38 out of 39 households were covered under the scheme. Chimiryala with 35 Dalit families and Gudimalkapur with 25 were two additional villages in the Samsthan Narayanpur mandal that were identified for the scheme. However, it has been abandoned for the time being, and no other village is currently listed in the constituency.
Interestingly, the official maintained that there weren’t any eligibility criteria or clear specifications for determining the beneficiaries, and that they hadn’t yet received clear instructions on this. “Even at Jamastanpally, there were no specific instructions, but we tried to follow some guidelines, such as giving poverty priority based on income levels (less than Rs 2 lakh)”.
“The TRS will surely replicate the Huzurabad model wherever there is a re-election. It will selectively hand out several freebies and schemes such as Dalit Bandhu. It’s interesting to note that just 400 of the 18,000 Huzurabad households were able to enjoy the funds. The funds remained frozen and were not accessible to the remaining households,” said Koppu Basha, state president of the SC Morcha of the BJP.
While the Congress alleged that owing to a lack of proper screening mechanism, TRS leaders were influencing and ensuring that those close to them get benefitted. Some others who are overseeing the implementation of the scheme were getting their cut.
“With latest political developments in Munugode, the Treasury department has been already alerted about the scheme’s implementation in the constituency. This is politically motivated and real beneficiaries are cornered in the process. Moreover, wherever the scheme was implemented earlier, the beneficiaries paid close to Rs 2 lakh as commission to middlemen,” observed N. Pritam, Congress SC Cell chairman.