Union Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley on Monday claimed the Congress’ promise to provide an income support of Rs 72,000 per annum to the poorest 20% families of the country was a “bluff announcement”.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi had first mentioned such a scheme in January and gave details on Monday. Five crore families and 25 crore people will benefit from the scheme, he said, adding that the money will be directly transferred to their bank accounts.
“No political party has betrayed India for more than seven decades other than the Congress Party,” Jaitley said in a Facebook post. “It gave to the people of India many slogans and very little resources to implement them.”
The amount promised by the Congress is “less than two-thirds of the existing Direct Benefit Transfer under Modi government, which averages Rs 1.068 lakh annually”, Jaitley said. “So what is being claimed by the Congress Party – a bluff announcement.”
“In the last five years, the government headed by Narendra Modi introduced Direct Benefit Transfer through banks,” the finance minister said. “Besides subsidies for food, fertilizer, kerosene, 55 ministries handed over subsidies to the poor through the DBT, which was enabled by Aadhaar. The Congress opposed Aadhaar in Parliament and challenged it before the Supreme Court. Ironically, they now want to use the same mechanism.”
Jaitley said: “Today most industrial workers get more than Rs 12,000 per month. The minimum starting salary in government after the 7th Pay Commission is Rs 18,000 a month. The landless and poor, amongst the villagers, get a MNREGA payment. Minimum wages for the labour have been raised by 42%.”
Further criticising the Congress, Jaitley said the Nehruvian model “stagnated growth” while former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi “gave legendary slogan of ‘Garibi Hatao’ in 1971” and only redistributed poverty. “The legacy of poverty in India reflects inefficient governance & economic model of the Congress Party,” he added in a tweet.
“For two-third of the last 48 years [since Indira Gandhi gave her Garibi Hatao slogan] her party has been in power. Yet, they left behind a legacy of poverty,” Jaitley said. “The UPA government, between 2004 and 2014, conferred a large number of ‘rights’ without resources to implement them.”
Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had a “historic opportunity” to remove poverty and initially showed a desire to do so, but his government “got caught in unsavoury controversies preventing any significant and major changes”, Jaitley said.
The Congress’ scheme, Jaitley added, is an admission “that neither Indiraji nor her son and certainly not the UPA Government controlled by her descendants, was able to remove poverty”.
BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged that the Congress is showing a “false dream” to the country with its minimum income guarantee scheme. “Today Rahul Gandhi announced Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme. Indira Gandhi had raised slogan of ‘Gareebi Hatao’ in 1971,” Prasad told ANI. “We thought poverty had been removed but nothing happened. Rajiv Gandhi was PM, he said I send Re 1 from Delhi and only 15 paise reaches villages.”
“This showing of false dream to the people of India, is not going to cut any ice because the Congress record of 55 years has always been anti-poor,” Prasad added.
The Congress’ scheme will “bust fiscal balance”, said Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar. “True to its past record of promising the moon to win elections, Congress President announces a scheme that will burst fiscal discipline, create strong incentives against work and which will never be implemented,” Kumar said in a tweet, adding that it will ensure that the real needs of people remain unsatisfied.
Kumar added: “Congress party promised #GaribiHatao in 1971, #OROP in 2008, #FoodSecurity in 2013 to win elections, but couldn’t fulfill any of those. The same unfortunate fate awaits the populist and opportunistic promise of #MinimumIncomeGuarantee.”