- Congress has a terrible track record on poverty alleviation: Arun Jaitley
- He said Congress has history of giving false assurances
- Poverty thrived under Congress rule in the 70s, Mr Jaitley said
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday slammed Congress president Rahul Gandhi's promise of a "historic" minimum income guarantee scheme to India's poor, saying that a party with such a terrible track record of poverty alleviation has no right to make lofty assurances.
Ripping into the promised scheme, portrayed by the Congress as "the final assault on poverty", the Union Minister said that 20% of the country's poorest families were already getting Rs 1.06 lakh each under various schemes promoted by the Narendra Modi government. The Rs 72,000-a-year scheme proposed by the opposition party pales in comparison to this, he added.
The Congress president had earlier in the day announced a minimum income guarantee scheme of Rs 72,000 a year for India's poorest families if they vote the Congress to power. He claimed that the money, directly transferred to the bank accounts of 20% of the poorest in the country, would lift five crore families out of poverty.
The Union Finance Minister, in his counter, claimed that the Narendra Modi government was already giving 1.5 times the amount promised by Mr Gandhi to the country's poor.
Terming Mr Gandhi's promise as a "bluff announcement", Mr Jaitley said that the grand old party regularly gives false assurances to woo voters. "They promised a farm loan waiver of Rs 70,000 crore in 2008, but gave away only Rs 52,000 crore. A Comptroller and Auditor General report later found that Delhi businessmen ended up getting most of the money," he said.
Mr Jaitley alleged that the Congress has a habit of waking up to the plight of the poor just before the elections. "The Congress opposed the Aadhaar Bill -- a legislation meant to directly benefit the poor -- in Parliament and their lawyers opposed it in court. Now they say that the money will be disbursed through banks," he said.
The Union Minister cited the 1971 elections, when Indira Gandhi stormed to power on the promise of eliminating poverty, to drive home his claim about the Congress' unfulfilled promises. "But she did not believe in the things that are needed for such a task, such as creating wealth in society and then distributing it," he said. "She only believed in redistribution of poverty."
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