Hyderabad: The Election Commission of India (EC) on Wednesday barred TRS government in Telangana from distributing free sarees among poor women on the occasion of Bathukamma festival.
The poll panel communicated to the state Chief Electoral Officer that the state government is not permitted to distribute the sarees on the occasion of the festival from October 12.
The EC secretariat communicated this in response to a letter sent last week by Chief Electoral Officer Rajat Kumar, who wanted to know if the state government could go ahead with the distribution of sarees.
The poll panel's directive has come as a setback to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which was keen on the annual programme in the run-up to the ensuing elections. The opposition parties had urged the Election Commission not to allow the programme.
The EC had last week clarified that the Election Code of Conduct (ECC) came into effect with the dissolution of the Assembly. It also made it clear that the TRS government is only a caretaker government.
The TRS government dissolved the Assembly on September 6, paving the way for early elections. The elections are expected to be held in November-December.
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.
Under the ambitious scheme, the state government had this year given orders to wavers' societies for making 95 lakh sarees and blouses to handloom units. The government had made arrangements for distribution of sarees from October 12. More than half of the sarees were already sent to the districts for distribution.
The government had ordered manufacturing of these polyester sarees in 80 colours and designs at a cost of Rs 280 crore.