Lok Sabha Election 2019

Middle classes will not be taxed for funding 'nyay' scheme, says Rahul Gandhi

Congress president Rahul Gandhi speaks during an interactive session with students, in Pune on April 5, 2019.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi speaks during an interactive session with students, in Pune on April 5, 2019.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Congress chief answers questions on a range of issues, from personal to political, in an interaction with students across Pune’s colleges and varsities.

The Congress would deliver on its ambitious 'nyuntam aay yojana' (nyay) scheme without burdening the middle class or raising taxes and if the United Progressive Alliance came to power, it would fund 'Nyay' through money retrieved from economic offenders and crony capitalists, party president Rahul Gandhi said on Friday.

In an interaction with students across Pune’s colleges and varsities, Mr. Gandhi said the Narendra Modi-led Union government had written off a whopping ₹3,50,000 crore in loans to 15 richest business people in the country.

Over 4000 students congregated at Pune’s Mahalaxmi lawns in Hadapsar for a freewheeling interactive session with Mr. Gandhi. The event was moderated by RJ Malishka and actor Subodh Bhave.

Mr. Gandhi answered questions on a range of issues, from personal to political on the occasion.

“How many jobs has Anil Ambani has given this country? How many jobs has Nirav Modi given this country?” Mr. Gandhi said, responding to a question on how the party proposed to fund their scheme.

“How many students here have had their education loans written off? Why is it that if your name is Anil Ambani or Nirav Modi your loans are forgiven whereas if you are a student or farmer, you can’t have your loans written off,” he said. There was no shortage of money in the system and that it would come from the people who had dominated the banking system so far, he observed.

While reiterating that he did not hate the Prime Minister, Mr. Gandhi took veiled jibes at Mr. Modi and the BJP, remarking that he did not believe in making empty promises or sweeping statements.

“I like saying what is possible. Sometimes that doesn’t look as exciting like saying what one feels like [read Mr. Modi’s proclamations],” he said.

'Congress manifesto an expression of people'

The Congress’s manifesto was not an expression of the party, but of the people of India. “The manifesto that we put out is not really ours... We have gone to students, farmers, doctors, lawyers all stakeholders and asked them. The idea for the Nyay scheme idea hasn’t come from us [the Congress]. It has come from people,” he said.

Answering a question on demonetisation, he said it was a disastrous idea. “You can ask any economist about it… It had a terrible effect on the economy. Millions of jobs were lost, 2% of the GDP was lost. It is like an injury we have sustained and have no choice but to live with it.”

Responding to questions on unemployment and underemployment, he said 27,000 jobs were being lost every 24 hours in India, while China was producing 50,000 jobs in the same time span.

“The reason for this is that in India, we do not respect skill or the capability of a person.” It was imperative to respect skill and target it with financial and political support, he said.

Mr. Gandhi also spoke on the flaws of the Indian university system. It was insular as varsities were not linked to jobs, he said.

Education and healthcare

Twenty-two lakh government posts were lying vacant. The country needed to build a solid education and health infrastructure along with effective public institutions, he said.

Mr. Gandhi criticised the NDA government for ''abdicating its responsibility'' towards establishing quality government institutions in healthcare and education

“There is a logic prevalent in this government that privatisation will solve the problems in the healthcare and education sectors. The government has a responsibility to show the private sector that it can create quality institutions. Instead there have been dramatic cuts in education,” he said.

Mr. Gandhi promised that if the UPA came to power, it would increase its expenditure on education, raising it to 6 per cent of the total GDP.

He also emphasised need to ''kick-start the economy'' and talked about the merits of the 'Nyay' scheme. Putting ₹72,000 in the bank accounts of the poor would give the economy a much-needed boost, he said.

Reservation for women

Answering a question on reservation for women, he said that once the UPA government came to power, 33% of the Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabha and Rajya Sabha seats would be reserved for women, while 33% of all jobs would be reserved for women at the national level.

On the Congress’ plan to do away with NITI Ayog and reinstate the Planning Commission, he said: “The difference between the NITI Ayog and the Planning Commission is that the former is all about the implementation of strategy, while the latter planned the country’s strategy by doing things at the national level.”

The Planning Commission was a strategic institution. India needed an institution that thought strategically at the global and not the local level like NITI Ayog.

“NITI thinks only about tactics and not about strategy. The nature of the institution needs to be changed. India needs two or three strategic moves right now if we have to compete with China,” he said.

Extending the analogy of the Indian educational system, where questions were not welcome, he said, “I am standing here and answering questions that I may not like or make me feel uncomfortable. Why does the Prime Minister not welcome such types of open, interactive functions?”

The Prime Minister's alleged lack of transparency derived from “an attitude that only he knew everything and no one knew anything,” he alleged.

Balakot air strike

When asked as to who should take the credit for the air strike on a camp of Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad at Balakot in Pakistan, he said the Air Force deserved full credit for it.

“It is important that people know that they cannot mess around with India. While I am for the air strike, I am against its politicisation,” he said, adding, “I feel uncomfortable when the Prime Minister politicises the strikes. I don’t do it, he does it but that’s his choice.”

Mr. Gandhi also acquiesced to a question on whether there ought to be a retirement age for politicians, stating that “60 is very good for politicos to retire.”

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 8:25:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/middle-classes-will-not-be-taxed-for-funding-nyay-scheme-says-rahul-gandhi/article26745685.ece

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