Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday termed his party’s promise of minimum guaranteed income to the poorest 20% households a “surgical strike on poverty” and said nobody should be poor in 21st century India.
Addressing a rally in Suratgarh town of Ganganagar district, a day after declaring his party would roll out the scheme if voted to power, Mr. Gandhi alleged that Prime Minster Narendra Modi gave money to the rich and top industrialists of the country and said the Congress would serve the poor.
He said the promised minimum income scheme was a “big bang”.
“Dhamaka hai ye…bomb fatega (It’s a big bang…a bomb will set off). This is a Congress’s surgical strike on poverty. They (the BJP) worked to eliminate the poor, we will eliminate poverty,” Gandhi said.
On helping the poor, he said, “We thought how it should be done. After discussion and brainstorming, we thought that there should be a minimum income line of ₹12,000 per month. Soon after formation of the Congress government in 2019, the minimum income line in India will be ₹12,000 per month.”
He alleged that poverty and unemployment increased under the Modi government. While the Congress-led UPA government lifted 14 crore people out of poverty, “Modi made them poor again”, he claimed.
On Monday, Mr. Gandhi announced in New Delhi that ₹72,000 per year will be given as minimum income to poor families, benefiting around 25 crore people, if his party is voted to power in Lok Sabha polls.
“Nobody should be poor in the country in 21st century,” he told the Suratgarh rally on Tuesday.
He also alleged that the Modi government weakened the schemes and programmes such as MGNREGA and food security introduced by the UPA dispensation.
“Whatever was done under the MGRENGA, food security and loan waiver by the UPA government, that all were finished by Narendra Modi. Poverty and unemployment increased in his rule,” he said.
He said that top industrialists were helped by the government in “looting” the public money and their debt of ₹3.5 lakh were written off, but farm loans were not.
The Congress chief continued his “chowkidar” barb at the PM.
“During last elections, he promised jobs to two crore youths, ₹15 lakh in every bank account. But no jobs were given and no money was transferred. He made tall promises. He spoke whatever came to his mind. He had asked public to not make him the prime minister but a chowkidar (watchman). But he never told that he will not be your chowkidar but a chowkidar of people like Anil Ambani,” he said.
Mr. Gandhi said that all those who took away public money from banks were “helped” by the NDA government, PM Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and Union minister Arun Jaitley. All of them have looted public money, he charged.
He also targeted the government over demonetisation and GST and asked if the note ban was announced to curb black money why nobody having such asset was seen in queue to covert the currency.
Banks changed the black money through the back door, he alleged.
Mr. Gandhi said that Mr. Shah’s son business of ₹50,000 progressed to crores of rupees, tainted businessman Mehul Choksi transferred money to the bank account Mr. Jaitley’s daughter, and fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya met Mr. Jaitley in the parliament house before absconding.
All these allegations have been refuted by the BJP and its leaders.
The Congress president reiterated his allegation on the government over the Rafale deal, saying Mr. Modi helped Anil Ambani in getting the contract for manufacturing the plane despite the fact that he had no experience in making aircraft.
These allegations have also been rejected by the government and Mr. Ambani.
Rajasthan Chief minister Ashok Gehlot, deputy chief minister and Pradesh congress committee president Sachin Pilot and other senior leaders of the party were present at the rally.