The Election Commission on Monday withdrew permission given to the Bharat Rashtra Smithi government in Telangana to disburse financial aid to farmers for rabi crops under the Rythu Bandhu scheme.

The model code of conduct is imposed in the southern state as it goes to polls on November 30. Votes will be counted on December 3.

The development came two days after the poll panel accused Finance Minister T Harish Rao of violating the model code by making a public announcement about the scheme. The code is a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission that political parties have to follow while campaigning.

The scheme provides farmers with investment support for agriculture and horticulture crops with the aim of reducing their debt. Each farmer gets a direct benefit transfer of Rs 5,000 per acre each season for purchasing seeds, fertilisers and pesticides as well as other requirements.

There are 70 lakh farmers as beneficiaries under the scheme.

On November 24, the polling body had allowed the state government to continue disbursing financial aid. However, the permission was granted on the condition that the government will not add new beneficiaries or promote the scheme in its rallies among others things.

The K Chandrashekar Rao-led state government had sought permission for disbursing benefits stating that it is usually done during the November-January period during the Rabi season since 2018.

However, the polling body said that T Harish Rao, the nephew of Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, violated the provisions of the Model Code of Conduct. He is contesting the Siddipet Assembly constituency.

The Election Commission also said that the party violated the conditions laid down for disbursing the funds as it “publicised the scheme the release under the scheme, and thereby disturbed the level playing field in the ongoing election process”.

The polling body took the action after the Opposition Congress on Sunday requested the chief election commissioner to restrict the Bharat Rashtra Samithi from promoting the disbursement in their poll campaign, reported the Hindustan Times.

The Congress in its manifesto has also promised a similar scheme called the Rythu Bharosa, under which it will pay Rs 15,000 per acre for farmers/tenant farmers and Rs 12,000 for agricultural labour and bonus of Rs 500 for paddy crop.

Telangana Congress president A Revanth Reddy tweeted on Monday that farmers do not need to worry about the development as his party would give them Rs 15,000 within 10 days after it forms the government on December 9.

Reddy also blamed T Harish Rao for the polling body’s decision.

He added that the uncle and nephew have made the farmers lose money with their arrogance to gain political mileage. “The Bharat Rashtra Samithi does not have any love for the farmers but are only concerned about getting political mileage,” he said.