Support it or Not? Congress Challenges PM Modi to Clarify Stand on its Minimum Income Scheme
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said women heads of five crore poor families will get the amount directly in their bank accounts under Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) scheme.
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Image: Reuters)
New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clearly spell out whether he supports its scheme of giving Rs 72,000 annually to each of five crore poorest families in the country, and accused the BJP leadership of opposing the proposal.
At a press briefing, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said women heads of five crore poor families will get the amount directly in their bank accounts under Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) scheme.
According to estimate, implementation of the scheme will require Rs 3.6 lakh crore annually, and the Congress is yet to clarify how resources will be generated to implement the scheme.
Surjewala said 'Nyay' is not a "top-up scheme" and modalities for its implementation would be worked out once the party assumes power, adding the party was working on finances for the scheme.
Party leaders said Nyay is not a work-oriented scheme like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment programme and money will provided directly into the bank accounts of women in the beneficiary families to help them come out of poverty.
"We are working on finances to implement the scheme. It will not put the economy under strain," said a party leader who wished not to be named.
Surjewala said the existing schemes like MNREGA, and existing subsidies would continue and will not be subsumed into 'Nyay'.
"No scheme will be closed, no subsidy will be cut. This is neither a replacement of MNREGA, nor of any other scheme, as all existing schemes will continue and this scheme will be besides the existing ones," he said.
"This is an income supplementing scheme to pull the family out of poverty and that is why the money is being paid directly into the accounts of women of poor families," Surjewala added.
Taking on PM Modi, he said, "His politics thrives on keeping people poor, lest they start asking questions."
It was "shameful" that "pro-rich" Modi was opposing the world's biggest anti-poverty scheme, Surjewala alleged, adding "the PM and BJP must clarify whether they support 'Nyay' or not, whether they support helping the poor or not."
The Congress leader also attacked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for dubbing the scheme as a "bluff announcement", saying no other political party has "betrayed" India for more than seven decades in the name of poverty.
Surjewala also attacked government think tank NITI Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar dubbing the body he headed as "Rajneeti Ayog" and asked him to run the organisation from the BJP office and contest elections instead.
Kumar had criticised Congress on 'Nyay'.
Brushing aside critics of the scheme who claim it will strain the economy, he said, "We have looked at the economics of the scheme, we have looked at the contours of the scheme and the scheme is fully implementable," he claimed, brushing aside critics who say this will further strain the economy."
On the proposed scheme, the Congress spokesperson said, "...every poor family shall be rightfully entitled to Rs 72,000 per annum. This will apply to both urban and rural poor families."
"Rs 72,000 would be deposited directly in the bank accounts of the woman of the family. Modi Government's 'Economic Survey 2016-17' accepted that India under the Congress reduced poverty. Poverty which was 70 per cent during Independence has come down to just 22 per cent in 2011-12. With the path-breaking 'Nyay' scheme, Congress will now eradicate the remaining 20 per cent poverty too," he said.
Targeting the prime minister, he said, "The anti-poor DNA of suited-booted PM Modi and his incompetent Finance Minister Arun Jaitley stand exposed as they bitterly oppose the world's biggest anti-poverty scheme."
He alleged that the prime minister "can happily waive" Rs 3.17 lakh crore for a handful of crony friends but opposes the Rs 6,000-per month respite for the poor.
"Because Modiji opposes anything & everything that is pro-poor, People will now do NYAY' (justice)," he said.
He said former finance minister P Chidambaram has had wider consultation with economists and has drafted the contours of the scheme and he will spell out further details of the scheme.
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