The Congress has come up with an election stratagem to eradicate poverty with a minimum income guarantee that is Rs. 72, 000 per year– ‘if voted to power in the Lok Sabha elections’. This scheme is slated to directly benefit 20 per cent beneficiary families. Randeep Surjewala, the party’s spokesman, clarified that this is ‘not a top-up scheme’. He said all 20 per cent families will get Rs 72, 000 a year. The money will be transferred directly to the bank account of women.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi had announced on Monday that he will implement the Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) across the country if voted to power in the upcoming national elections. Gandhi said the Congress government will determine an income of Rs 12,000 as the line for demarcation of poverty for a family. The programme promises the lowest quintile or the poorest 20 per cent households, a monthly income transfer of Rs 6,000 assuming this will pull them up to the level of at least Rs 12,000.
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Moreover, the number of households targeted by the Congress approximates that of the Rangarajan poverty estimates. As per the Rangarajan panel, about 269 million people are below the poverty line. This was revised to Rs 4,800 a month for a household of five in rural areas and Rs 7,050 a month for a household of five in urban areas. However, Amitabh Kundu, an economist said household income data doesn’t exist at the national level. Mr. Kundu said the data does exist at the state level compiled by state statistical bureaus which then have to be cleaned up by Central Statistics Office.
Praveen Chakravarty, chairperson of the Congress’s data analytics department, said “Income data are available. We do have a sense of the income distribution. How do you think inequality figures are arrived at? There is the Centre for Monitoring of Indian Economy for instance. There is of course the SECC. That there is no official income data and therefore I can’t embark on a final mission to finish poverty is the most ridiculous excuse.”
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Meanwhile, Arun Jaitley, the Union Finance Minister has scoffed the Congress’s promise. He said the announcement reflected a failure on the part of the previous Congress and Congress-led governments, including those of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. Jaitley said the total promised by the Congress, Rs72, 000 a year, is just around two-thirds of what the NDA gives the poor.