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Rs 72,000 Each Year to 5 Crore Poorest Families: Rahul Gandhi Unveils 'Mother of All' Minimum Income Schemes

Gandhi did not give details on how the party arrived at the Rs 72,000 figure, leaving it for committee head P Chidambaram, a former finance minister, to explain on a later date.

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Updated:March 26, 2019, 8:09 AM IST
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Rs 72,000 Each Year to 5 Crore Poorest Families: Rahul Gandhi Unveils 'Mother of All' Minimum Income Schemes
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi asserted that the scheme will be the final assault on poverty. (Photo: INC/Twitter)
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New Delhi: In a big-bang poll promise, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday announced that Rs 72,000 per year will be given as minimum income to poor families if his party is voted to power in Lok Sabha polls. Asserting that it will be the final assault on poverty, he said the scheme would benefit around 25 crore people.

Addressing a press conference, Gandhi said 20 per cent or five crore families belonging to the poorest category with monthly income less than Rs 12,000 would come under the scheme.

"This is a ground breaking idea. It is a historic day for India and the final assault on poverty is beginning. We will wipe out poverty from the country," he said, adding that the scheme was finalised after thorough consultations with renowned economists and experts.

However, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley described the poll promise as a "bluff announcement", saying no other political party has betrayed India for more than seven decades in the name of poverty. He said that the amount was 1.5 times less than what BJP government was already paying to the poor and the farmers through various schemes.

The scheme comes as a sequel to the minimum income guarantee scheme announced by Gandhi in January, while campaigning at a poll rally. The scheme is a major poll promise made by the Congress in a bid to woo poor voters with an aim to improve the party's prospects in Lok Sabha polls.

Gandhi said families which are earning less than Rs 12,000 a month will get the remaining amount to provide minimum income to them. He said each family will get up to a maximum of Rs 72,000 per annum.

"The Congress party guarantees that 20 per cent families belonging to poorest of the poor category in India will be given Rs 72,000 each annually, to help provide them minimum income of Rs 12,000 per month," Gandhi said, adding that details of the scheme would be unveiled in the coming few days.

He did not give details on how the party arrived at the Rs 72,000 figure, leaving it for committee head P Chidambaram, a former finance minister, to explain on a later date.

Gandhi made the scheme public soon after it was given a go-ahead by the Congress Working Committee, which had met at the AICC headquarters to give final shape to the party's manifesto, to be released soon.

The Congress chief said the party has studied the fiscal implications of the scheme and consulted renowned economists and experts before finalising it. “It will be a fiscally prudent move,” he said.
Asked how they expect to mop up resources and whether it will affect the economy, he said there is enough money in India. "If Narendra Modi can give money to the richest people in the country, then the Congress party can give money to the poorest in the country," he said.

"I am promising you today that justice will be done. Scheme will be on a phase basis. First a pilot project will be run then scheme will run," he said.

"The fiscal repercussions of this have been analysed. This money is perfectly available. This scheme is perfectly doable. We are going to deliver this scheme," he said.

"We have consulted economists, this is doable, and we will adhere to fiscal discipline," former finance minister P Chidambaram said.

Meanwhile, Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar said Rahul Gandhi's promise of providing Rs 72,000 annually to five crore families will create strong incentives against work and bust fiscal discipline. He said the fiscal deficit would rise from 3.5 per cent to 6 per cent if the scheme is implemented.
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