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EC move on volunteers boomerangs on Oppn Pensions to be distributed from today amid staffing challenges
c pradeep kumar

The eagerly awaited pensions for over 66 lakh beneficiaries in the State faced unexpected delays due to the recent ban by the Election Commission of India on volunteers’ participation in the normal disbursal exercise.
Responding to complaints from opposition parties, the EC imposed a ban on village/ward volunteers, disrupting the planned distribution of social security pensions on April 1.
This abrupt ban, just days before the scheduled disbursement, caused frustration within the government ranks. While opposition parties attempted to shift blame onto the ruling YSRCP for the delay, it’s the vulnerable pensioners who bore the brunt of the situation, accustomed to receiving their pensions promptly at the start of each month. The pensioners now are hurling curses at the Opposition, particularly the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) for denying them a chance to receive their pensions promptly at the doorstep.
The genesis of this ban lies in the ongoing tensions between opposition parties and the YSRCP regarding the role of volunteers in election-related activities. Despite prior complaints from opposition parties to keep volunteers away from such activities, a last-minute plea to halt volunteers from pension distribution further exacerbated the situation, leaving beneficiaries in a state of uncertainty.

Ironically, this turn of events seemed to favour the ruling YSRCP while delivering setbacks to the opposition coalition, which includes the TDP/BJP/JSP. Despite efforts by leaders like Pawan Kalyan of the JSP and TDP officials to discredit volunteers with unfounded accusations, public support, notably from pensioners, rallied behind the volunteers.
Furthermore, certain volunteers, deeply affected by the negative remarks from opposition figures, pursued legal action against such defamation. Media outlets aligned with opposition parties worsened matters by continuously vilifying the volunteers, leading to numerous resignations and undermining the vital role they play in community welfare.
The ramifications of this disruption are dire for the 66.34 lakh beneficiaries, spanning various vulnerable groups, who rely on timely pension disbursements for their livelihoods. These beneficiaries, including the elderly, single women, widows, and others, receive a monthly enhanced pension of Rs 3,000, typically delivered directly to their doorstep by volunteers.
In response to the crisis, Chief Secretary KS Jawahar Reddy has convened a review meeting with district election officers, aiming to reassure beneficiaries that pension distribution will resume by Wednesday, April 3. However, with staffing challenges looming large, the government’s ability to swiftly alleviate the distress of pensioners across the State remains uncertain.

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