EC issues notice to Gujarat govt after state writes off over Rs 650 crore energy bill dues of rural users

Even as campaigning for the prestigious by-election to Gujarat's Jasdan assembly constituency ended on Tuesday evening, the Election Commission issued notices to the state government on electricity bill exemptions announced on Tuesday for rural consumers.

Indo-Asian News Service December 19, 2018 08:52:17 IST
EC issues notice to Gujarat govt after state writes off over Rs 650 crore energy bill dues of rural users

Gandhinagar: Even as campaigning for the prestigious by-election to Gujarat's Jasdan assembly constituency ended on Tuesday evening, the Election Commission issued notices to the state government on electricity bill exemptions announced on Tuesday for rural consumers.

The model code of conduct is in force in the Rajkot town since the by-election was announced. The state government on Tuesday simultaneously made an announcement on setting up of a branch of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences at Rajkot.

EC issues notice to Gujarat govt after state writes off over Rs 650 crore energy bill dues of rural users

File image of Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani. PTI

The canvassing for the by-election to the seat in Rajkot district in the Saurashtra region concluded at 5 pm. Cabinet minister Kunvarji Bavaliya, who is a turncoat from the Congress, is contesting from Jasdan which he vacated after he quit the Congress to join the BJP recently. The veteran Congress leader from the Koli community was inducted in the Vijay Rupani Cabinet within hours of joining the BJP.

Both the parties, the BJP and the Congress, have made it a prestige election since the opposition party as well as Bavaliya have seldom lost from there. While the BJP is trying to woo the influential Koli community in Gujarat through Bavaliya, the Congress feels energized after its recent poll victories in the neighbouring Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

The Election Commission's notices to the state energy as well as health departments seek state government's explanation on making the announcements when the model code of conduct was in force in Jasdan.

The BJP government announced pending electricity bill waiver for all categories of rural consumers and the BPL families in urban centres in the state.  Energy minister Saurabh Patel said the state government had decided to exempt the rural consumers from pending electricity bills amounting to over Rs 650 crore.

In addition, the defaulters would also be provided new power connections on a payment of only Rs 500. The opposition Congress promptly described it as a "lollipop" by the ruling BJP compared to the relief the Congress governments had granted in the other states.

On a trip to the constituency, cricketer-turned-politician and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Siddhu said: "It is as impossible to make the BJP speak the truth as to put an elephant in your lap and feed it."

He cited the farm loan waiver by newly-formed Congress governments in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, reminding the voters that Prime Minister Modi, despite making similar election promises, did nothing to waive the farmers' debts in Gujarat.

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