Describing it as a ‘ground-breaking’ promise and a final assault on poverty, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday announced that 20% of the poorest families in the country would be annually given ₹72,000 each under the Nyuntam Aay Yojana ( NYAY) or minimum income guarantee, if his party was voted to power.
Mr. Gandhi asserted that five crore families and 25 crore people would be lifted out of poverty under NYAY — the acronym suggested by Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra to convey a sense of ‘justice’ for the poor.
“This is a ground breaking idea, and it is a historic day. Final assault on poverty has begun. We will wipe out poverty from the country,” Mr. Gandhi said at a press conference after a Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting that reviewed the manifesto. “I promise there will be justice for the poor. The Congress guarantees that 20% families belonging to the poorest of the poor category will be given ₹72,000 each annually,” he added.
Under NYAY, the income threshold has been fixed at ₹12,000 a month and the Congress has promised that their government will pay the difference. According to Congress leaders, data on national income distribution indicates that even the poorest families earn ₹6,000 a month.
To cost ₹3.6 lakh cr
The cost to the exchequer from the proposed scheme is expected to be around ₹3.6 lakh crore going by the estimate of five crore families.
“If a family earns ₹6000 per month, the remaining ₹6,000 will be credited to their account. Once the family reaches the threshold of ₹12,000, it [payment] will stop,” explained Mr. Gandhi. He added that the scheme will be implemented in phases after a pilot project.
Asked about possible implication on fiscal management, Mr. Gandhi said,“ The entire calculations have been done. The fiscal repercussions of this have been analysed. This money is perfectly available. This scheme is perfectly do-able”.
The Congress chief also said the party has been in touch with leading economists who agree on the scheme’s feasibility.
”If Narendra Modi can give money to the rich people in the country, then Congress can give the poor this money,” he said, accusing the Prime Minister of “creating two Indias by favouring the rich”.
Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram claimed that the scheme can implemented without being fiscally imprudent. “Under NYAY, the poorest 20% of families will get a uniform amount of ₹72,000 year. Every family in the poorest 20% will be given an income support of ₹6000 a month. We have consulted economists, this is doable, and we will adhere to fiscal discipline,” he tweeted.
“This is not note bandi or demonetisation but ‘remonetising’ the economy or note wapsi that will have a tremendous impact on revenue,” said Praveen Chakravarty, who heads the Congress’ Data Analytics wing that collected the numbers on household incomes.