In a big bang election promise, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday announced that 20 per cent families belonging to the poorest category will be given Rs 72,000 each annually as minimum income if his party comes to power.
The money will be directly transferred to the bank accounts of 20 per cent of the poorest in the country. The scheme, said the Congress president, would lift five crore families or 25 crore people out of poverty.
Making the announcement at a press conference here, Gandhi said five crore families and 25 crores will directly benefit from the scheme. "Final assault on poverty has begun. We will wipe out poverty from the country," he said Gandhi said the Congress has studied the fiscal implications of the scheme and consulted renowned economists and experts before finalising the scheme.
"It is an extremely powerful, ground-breaking and well-thought through an idea. We have consulted many economists on the scheme," he said. "People have suffered in the last five years and we are going to give justice to them," he added.
"It is fiscally possible. We have been studying the scheme for four-five months. We committed to the MGNREGA, we delivered MGNREGA … now we will ensure justice for the poor," said Gandhi.
He also described it as an "extremely powerful, dynamic, well-thought-through idea."
While questioning the practicability of the Rahul Gandhi's grand scheme,analysts have said the scheme would need an expenditure of Rs 3.6 lakh crore.
“It would put pressure on the fiscal deficit,'' said economists.
"It is not acceptable to the Congress that there is poverty in India in the 21st century. The final assault on poverty has begun," he said of the scheme named Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) by his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
However, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Monday described the poll promise of Congress President Rahul Gandhi to dole out Rs 72,000 each to poorest families every year as a "bluff announcement", saying no other political party has betrayed India for more than seven decades.
Jaitley said the Congress has given to the people many slogans but very little resources to implement its election promises.
"If the Congress Party's announcement is tested on simple arithmetic, Rs 72,000 for five crore families works out to be Rs.3.6 lakh crore, which is less than 2/3rd of what is being given (by the current government)- A bluff announcement," Jaitley said.
In a Facebook post titled 'Is Prime Minister Narendra Modi already giving to poor much more than what the Congress promises?', Jaitley said no political party has betrayed India for more than seven decades other than the Congress.
"It gave to the people of India many slogans and very little resources to implement them," he said.
Accusing the Opposition of sabotaging the pro-poor initiatives of the NDA government, Jaitley said "if the Congress party and its friends have so much concern for the poor in India, why is it that its states are going slow in certifying the list of small and marginal farmers who are entitled to receiving the instalment of PM KISAN? Why are some of the States such as West Bengal, Odisha and Delhi, amongst others, not implementing the Ayushman Bharat? What is the fault of their poor farmers that t ..
He said the Narendra Modi government has annually provided Rs 5.34 lakh crore to the poor by way of various schemes, subsidy transfers, Ayushman Bharat and PM Kisan initiative.
"The simple arithmetic is if multiple bank transfers to the five crore poor families, the existing payment to which is mostly being done. The above averages Rs 1,06,800 annually as against Rs 72,000 which is the Congress now seeks to promise through the DBT mechanism," Jaitley said.