Raipur: Taking a cue from “Garibi Hatao” slogan of Indira Gandhi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi declared to introduce a “historic” measure to guarantee a minimum income to the poor in the country, if his party wins the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Addressing the “Kisan Abhar Sammelan” organised in Raipur to thank farmers for voting Congress to power in Chhattisgarh in the November Assembly elections, Gandhi gave a broad outline of the measure, saying, a fixed amount would be transferred to the account of each unemployed poor every month.
Taking a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP government at the Centre on the issue of farmers’ loans, Gandhi said, “The Congress has decided to take a historic decision…The Congress-led government is going to give minimum income guarantee. This means, every poor person in India will have a minimum income. This means there will be no hungry, poor people in India (any longer).”
“No other country in the world has taken such an initiative so far,” he said, highlighting that Congress has delivered on its previous poll promises including the rural job scheme and RTI.
The announcement, seen as the biggest Lok Sabha poll promise made by the Congress after the one on farm loan waiver, comes ahead of the Union Budget, the last to be presented by the Modi government before the polls in May, which is widely speculated to come with big ticket populist schemes that would pave the way for cash transfer to farmers instead of subsidies as a sort of monthly income support.
It also follows the NDA government’s decision to give 10 per cent quota to the economically backward section in the general category.
Later, Gandhi, “We cannot build a new India while millions of our brothers & sisters suffer the scourge of poverty.”
“If voted to power in 2019, the Congress is committed to a minimum income guarantee for every poor person, to help eradicate poverty & hunger. This is our vision & our promise,” he said in his tweet.
Projecting his party as pro-farmer, Gandhi distributed symbolic loan waiver certificates to some of the beneficiary farmers and hit out at the BJP-led Union government for writing off `3.5 lakh crore worth of loans of 15 big industrialist but “not waiving off loans of farmers”.
Continuing his attack on the Centre over the Rafale figher jet purchase issue, he reiterated the allegation that the government ensured a “benefit” of `30,000 crore to industrialist Anil Ambani in this “world’s biggest defence contract”.
“Narendra Modi and the BJP want to create two Indias — one of loan waiver (for industrialists), Rafale scam, Anil Ambani, Mehul Choksi, Nirav Modi and Narendra Modi. In that you will get whatever you want… If you want Rafale contract, you will get it. If you want land, water, electricity, you will get it,” Gandhi said.
“The other India is of the poor, the weak, farmers, the youth. You are not going to get anything in that India. There you will only get ‘Mann Ki Baat’, 24 hours only ‘Mann Ki Baat’,” Mr Gandhi said, referring to the Prime Minister’s monthly radio address.
He said the previous BJP governments in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh had ignored the demand to waive crop loans saying that they had no money.
The BJP- led NDA government also rejected the farmers’ plea to write off their loans offering similar argument.