- Will give minimum income guarantee to every single Indian: Rahul Gandhi
- The Congress, Rahul Gandhi said, will not allow "two Indias"
- Won't allow an India where 15 persons can live like kings: Rahul Gandhi
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi aggressively took forward the party's newest promise to the people - a minimum income for the nation's poor - saying if Prime Minister Narendra Modi "can give maximum income guarantee to 15 rich people, we are going to give minimum income guarantee to every single Indian".
Mr Gandhi had made the party's big election pitch yesterday, calling it a "historic decision", and pre-empting a possible government scheme involving cash transfer to farmers instead of subsidies as a sort of monthly income support.
Today, the Congress chief ripped into PM Modi at a rally in Kerala's Kochi.
For the last 5 years, the Prime Minister has provided a "maximum income guarantee to 15 of his friends," Mr Gandhi said.
"If you are Anil Ambani, you have the guarantee to maximum income you can get... Jobs can be stolen from the people of Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha, HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) can be pushed aside and Anil Ambani can be given a contract; and for five years, people of India have watched this tamasha," the Congress chief said.
He then reeled off the names of businessmen allegedly involved in financial irregularities, tagging the sums involved in each case for maximum impact: "Nirav Modi - 45,000 crore, Mehul Choksi, 30,000 crore. Vijay Mallya, 10,000 crore, Lalit Modi... "
The Congress, he said, will not allow "two Indias". "We will not allow an India where 15 persons can live like kings and have anything they want," he added.
Mr Gandhi's pre-election promise has triggered ridicule from the BJP, which dismissed it as a political gimmick.
Union minister Rajyavardhan Rathore tweeted: "Mr Gandhi, your govts in Rajasthan and MP aren't even able to live up to the promise of farm loan waivers or the 3500 Rs. stipend for unemployed youth! Even after 70 years, Congress' habit of making empty, hollow promises remains unchanged."
Even a section of the opposition was skeptical.
In a statement this morning, Mayawati, one of the key opposition leaders, said: "Is this promise another cruel joke like the Congress's promise of "garibi hatao" or that of the present BJP government of depositing Rs. 15 to 20 lakhs in the account of all poor or "achchey din" which have only proved to be hollow promises?"
There have also been questions about how the Congress was planning to fund it. Two years ago, the idea of a Universal Basic Income in the Economic Survey of then Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian had said the time is not right yet for such a scheme. Unlike the Universal Basic Income, which was meant for everyone, the Congress plan involves only the poor.
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