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Consulted Raghuram Rajan on Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme, Says Rahul Gandhi

On Monday, Rahul Gandhi had announced that Rs 72,000 per year will be given as minimum income to poor families, benefiting around 25 crore people, if Congress is voted to power in Lok Sabha polls.


Updated:March 26, 2019, 10:30 PM IST
Consulted Raghuram Rajan on Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme, Says Rahul Gandhi
Bundi: Congress President Rahul Gandhi is greeted by his party worker as Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot looks on during a public meeting, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, in Bundi district, Tuesday, March 26, 2019. (PTI Photo)

Jaipur: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said his party consulted "big economists", including former RBI governor Rahuram Rajan, before it came up with the idea of minimum guaranteed income to the poorest 20 per cent households in the country.

On Monday, Gandhi had announced that Rs 72,000 per year will be given as minimum income to poor families, benefiting around 25 crore people, if his party is voted to power in Lok Sabha polls.

Addressing a meeting of his party workers here, Gandhi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to transfer Rs 15 lakh to every bank account. "We thought it was a good idea...Rs 15 lakh in bank accounts. But the promise was not fulfilled by Modi.”

He said the planning for the minimum income guarantee scheme had started six months ago. He went on to say that his party consulted "all big economists, without telling anyone, without giving any speeches".

"We were engaged in this work for six months. Take the list of all big economists of the world, we consulted them... Raghuram Rajan... one by one," he said.

"First thing, we came to know was that there should be a minimum income line. We calculated and the result was that the minimum income line should be 12,000 per month," he said.

Gandhi once again asserted that his party will fulfil the promise if it comes to power, even as doubts persist over how it plans to identify beneficiaries as there is limited data on household income.

Several experts have voiced concerns over the scheme, and said that its implementation would be an uphill task as it would cost Rs 3.6 lakh crore, or around 2 per cent of the GDP.

"NYAY reflects a welcome commitment to social security. The soundness of this proposal, however, depends on how it is to be financed and how the poorest 20 per cent are to be identified. Hopefully, the proposal will improve even as the commitment remains," Development Economist Jean Dreze said.

Syeda Hameed, former member of Planning Commission gave a thumbs up to the scheme though she admitted that it could result in a "fiscal burden" on the exchequer.

"It can change the face of India. It will be a fiscal burden, but there is enough ill gotten money with billionaires which can be put to use by a leader who is honest and who cares," she said.

But dismissing the concerns, Gandhi said at poll rallies in Rajasthan that the scheme would be “a surgical strike on poverty”. On Monday, he had described it as the final assault on poverty.

He said the promised minimum income scheme was a "big bang". "Dhamaka hai ye...bomb fatega (It's a big bang...a bomb will set off). This is a Congress's surgical strike on poverty. They (the BJP) worked to eliminate the poor we will eliminate poverty," Gandhi said.

On helping the poor, he said, "We thought how it should be done. After discussion and brainstorming, we thought that there should be a minimum income line of Rs. 12,000 per month. Soon after formation of the Congress government in 2019, the minimum income line in India will be Rs 12,000 per month."

He alleged that poverty and unemployment increased under the Modi government. While the Congress-led UPA government lifted 14 crore people out of poverty, "Modi made them poor again", he claimed.

Rahul Gandhi Tuesday also alleged the Modi government weakened the schemes and programmes such as MGNREGA and food security introduced by the UPA dispensation. "Whatever was done under the MGRENGA, food security and loan waiver by the UPA government, that all were finished by Narendra Modi. Poverty and unemployment increased in his rule," he said.

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| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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