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    Achuthanandan welcomes HC order on rice scheme

    Thiruvanathapuram: Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan on Tuesday welcomed the Kerala High Court ruling setting aside the Election Commission order restraining it from extending the scheme to provide rice at Rs 2 per kg to fresh beneficiaries.

    In a statement here Tuesday, Achuthanandan said Opposition leader Oommen Chandy "should apologise" to the people for allegedly trying to scuttle the scheme.

    The EC had in a letter to the Chief Minister mentioned that while banning the scheme the Commission had taken into consideration the recent statement of Chandy against the implementation of the government's decision, Achuthanandan said.

    The High Court had, earlier in the day, set aside the EC order restraining the government from providing rice at Rs 2 per kg to fresh beneficiaries, holding it as "wholly arbitrary".

    The EC decision to defer the implementation of the government decision was "unnconnected" with purposes sought to be achieved by the Commission for securing a level-playing field for all political parties, a division bench ruled.

    Achuthanandan said the Centre had not so far implemented its promise of providing rice at Rs 3 per kg, which he said was announced two years ago. However, the state decided to extend the scheme of providing rice at Rs 2 per kg to both APL and BPL categories in the society, he said.

    CPI-M State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan said the High Court order was a "slap" on the face of Congress-led UDF Opposition in the state.

    Vijayan wondered "how the UDF could oppose such a people-oriented welfare scheme".