New Delhi: After Rahul Gandhi's mega announcement of minimum income guarantee and its comparisons with the BJP-introduced universal basic income concept, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram clarified that the scheme will not be "universal" and will be specifically targeted at the poorest.
“The BJP has practically nothing to teach us. This idea of minimum income guarantee is not borrowed from the BJP. This will be targeted at the poorest and will not be universal,” said Chidambaram.
Chidambaram, who was the finance minister in the UPA regime, said the bulk of the obligation of the minimum income guarantee will be borne by the Centre.
“This is the time to implement the idea of minimum income guarantee for the poorest of India,” said Chidambaram.
He also said the party will reach out to all critics of the scheme to iron out the wrinkles and implement the scheme successfully.
“One way to wipe out poverty is to ensure the poorest of India have a minimum income.
The idea of minimum income for a family is an extrapolation of the minimum wage principle,” said Chidambaram.
However, it must be noted that minimum wages act applies only to employment in the organised sector and the bulk of the poor work in unorganised sector.
Chidambaram, who said it is too early to answer detailed questions on the scheme, affirmed that time has come to ensure that “no family slips below the poverty line”.
Expressing confidence that transfer of money to the poorest is "doable" and is consistent with India's fiscal situation, Chidambaram said, "We are a large economy. Given the size of our GDP, we can implement this scheme."
Chidambaram ruled out a scheme based on the lines of ‘Rythu Bandhu’, the flagship scheme of Telangana government that provides financial support of Rs 8,000 per acre to 58 lakh farmers in the state, saying Telangana model of farm income support has been criticised as money sometimes goes to absentee landlord.
Chidambaram acknowledged the utility of MNREGA, but said it is not enough to root out poverty.