Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday vowed that the money for his party’s proposed minimum income support scheme would not be sourced from the middle class or an increase in income taxes. Gandhi made the statement during an interaction with students in Pune.
Under the proposed minimum income guarantee scheme or NYAY, the Congress has promised that the poorest 20% families of the country will get an income support of Rs 72,000 per annum.
Gandhi said that the idea for the scheme was developed after his party workers consulted people from all walks of life. “The middle class will not be taxed and income tax will not be increased to implement the Nyay scheme,” he said. “The money for NYAY will come from the people who have dominated the banking system.”
Gandhi said the launch of the scheme will help the economy start again. “If you are a student or a farmer you cannot get your loans written off,” Gandhi said. “But if your name is Anil Ambani you can have crores written off, if your name is Nirav Modi you can run away with crores. There are a few people who have unlimited access to large amounts of money but have not given anything back in return.”
The Congress president further said: “The issue is not where the money will come from. We will deliver that. The issue is why should 15 people get access to unlimited amounts of money when nobody else in India does.”
Gandhi also wondered why Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not attend such open events where anybody can question him, PTI reported. “It is an attitude that ‘I know everything and nobody [else] knows anything’,” he said. “And that is the problem. It is not with the prime minister only, it is at every level, we do not appreciate questions.”
The Congress chief said that there is nothing wrong with making him uncomfortable by asking difficult questions. “In our education system, we do not appreciate questions,” he said. “In our system, the teacher speaks and the student listens.”
Gandhi also claimed that he loves Modi. “I love PM Modi. Genuinely, I have no hatred or anger towards the man, but he has anger towards me,” the Congress chief said.
“The 2019 elections are a battle of ideologies and the Congress ideology of brotherhood, love and harmony will win against Modi’s hate, anger and divisive ideology,” he said.
In Chandrapur, Gandhi alleged that the prime minister humiliated senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader LK Advani. “BJP talks of Hinduism. In Hinduism, the guru is supreme,” Gandhi said. “It talks of guru-shishya tradition. Who is Modi’s guru? Advani. Modi kicked Advani off the stage and then he talks about Hinduism.” This was a possible reference to the BJP leadership’s refusal to give Advani a ticket for the Lok Sabha elections.
Gandhi also alleged that the “chowkidar” had protected only the richest people in India. “Have you ever seen a chowkidar in front of a labourer’s house?” he asked. “[On the other hand] have you seen a chowkidar in front of businessman Anil Ambani’s house? Adani’s house? Modi has been a security guard only for the richest people.”
Senior Congress leader and former Union minister P Chidambaram, too, said the middle class will not bear the burden for implementation of the NYAY scheme. “I have already said in press conference and various interviews: there will be no increase in the tax burden of the middle class,” he said on Twitter.
The Congress has repeatedly accused the Modi-led government of illegally favouring businessmen Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi who are embroiled in corporate fraud cases. They have also accused him of illegally favouring Anil Ambani in the Rafale defence deal.