The old slogan of 'garibi hatao' (eradicate poverty) is back on Congress poll agenda. Party president Rahul Gandhi churned out his grandmother Indira Gandhi's slogan of the ‘70s with a minimum income guarantee scheme ensuring Rs 72,000 a year for 20 per cent of the country's poorest families.
At a press conference in Delhi on Monday, he said the highlight of the Congress election manifesto was to help eradicate poverty and this scheme, which he termed 'historic’ would see money directly transferred to bank accounts. It would benefit 5 crore families and lift 25 crore people out of poverty.
The limit of income fixed was RS 12,000 a month and families getting below that would be compensated to ensure that they got a minimum annual income of Rd 72,000.
"It is fiscally possible. We have been studying the scheme for four-five months. We discussed it with economists and found it was fiscally feasible,” he said. He reminded that the earlier UPA Government promised MGNREGA (employment guarantee) and delivered it.
Details of the scheme would be put out later. The scheme would be implemented in phases in the second leg at least 25 crore families would be taken out of poverty, he asserted.
“We will ensure justice for the poor," Rahul said. In a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said there were two sets of people in the country for the PM, the rich and the poor. “If Modi can give the richest people money, Congress will pay the poor,” Rahul said. In an indirect reference to the Rafale deal, he said the Government was paying Anil Ambani, while ignoring the poor.
He also described the scheme as an "extremely powerful, dynamic, well-thought-through idea", adding that the fiscal repercussions were well worked out. It would be a “final assault on poverty”, said Rahul, refusing to take questions on other matters, including the likelihood of his contesting from a second seat like Wayanad in Kerala. He earlier attended the Congress Working Committee meeting.