New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday announced a “historic” income guarantee scheme which will ensure India’s 20 per cent poorest families get Rs 72,000 per month.
Addressing the media after the Congress Working Committee meeting, Gandhi said the scheme — that he referred to as the “final assault on poverty” — will cover five crore families and benefit nearly 25 crore people.
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.
He, however, said the Congress has studied the fiscal implications and consulted renowned economists and experts before finalising the scheme.
The announcement comes just days before the country votes in the general elections and is being seen as a counter to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s mega outreach to farmers.
“I want to tell the poor that the line would be Rs 12,000… The Congress guarantees that 20 per cent of India’s poor would make at least Rs 72,000 annually,” he said, adding that the plan was “fiscally prudent” and implementable. Gandhi said the Congress has consulted renowned economists and experts before finalising the scheme.
“It is an extremely powerful, ground-breaking and well-thought through idea. We have consulted many economists on the scheme,” he said. “People have suffered in the last five years and we are going to give justice to them,” he added.
However, the scheme does not mean that everyone gets the Rs 12,000 dole. For instance, if a family earns Rs 6,000, the government will chip in the rest to raise the monthly family income to Rs 12,000.
Talking about the Congress manifesto, Gandhi said it covered everything from education, health and jobs. He also attacked Narendra Modi, saying if the Prime Minister could give money to the rich, “Congress can give it to the poor”.