The Election Commission has issued a notice to NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar over his remarks criticising the Congress's election promise of minimum income support for the poor. The election body said his comments violated the poll code which prohibits officials to support the government; it has sought Mr Kumar's response in two days.
Rajiv Kumar, in a series of tweets on Monday, had questioned the Congress's Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) announced by party chief Rahul Gandhi on the same day.
"Congress party promised Garibi Hatao in 1971, OROP in 2008, Food Security in 2013 to win elections, but couldn't fulfill any of those. The same unfortunate fate awaits the populist and opportunistic promise of Minimum Income Guarantee (sic)," he tweeted on Monday.
In another tweet, he said: "The cost of the Minimum Income Guarantee scheme at 2% of GDP and 13% of the budget will ensure that real needs of people remain unsatisfied."
Rahul Gandhi, while announcing the scheme, had said that any family earning less than Rs 12,000 a month will receive the difference - up to Rs 6,000 - in its bank account under the plan if the party is voted to power.
The Congress chief called the proposal a "final assault on poverty", saying it would benefit 25 crore people.
In an interview to news agency ANI on Monday, Rajiv Kumar had said that the Congress's proposed scheme will lead to "a huge fiscal adverse impact on the economy".
"I wish he (Rahul Gandhi) hadn't done this. It will lead to our credit rating agencies downgrading our ratings to young status and it will make the cost of borrowing much higher. The Kisan scheme (of the Modi government) is entirely different. That scheme is for very well identified small and marginal farmers," said the NITI Aayog official.
"This is same as in 2008 when their (Congress government's) finance minister let the fiscal deficit increase from 2 and half to per cent in one stroke," he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the chairman of the NITI Aayog, the government's think tank.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has described the Congress's poll promise as a "bluff announcement". "20% of the country's poorest families were already getting Rs 1.06 lakh each under various schemes promoted by the Narendra Modi government," Mr Jaitley said. The Rs 72,000 a year scheme per family proposed by the opposition party pales in comparison to this, he added.