Almost 50 years since Indira Gandhi's 'Garibi Hatao' resolution, her grandson Rahul Gandhi once again raised the slogan on Monday, while introducing what he hailed as a historic 'Minimum Income Guarantee' promise by the Congress party should it come to power. However, while he talked the scheme up aggressively, repeatedly telling gathered mediapersons 'You're shocked', he was scant with details to the point of appearing confused and putting out multiple figures.
"We are going to give justice to the poor people of India," the Congress president began triumphantly, explaining that "Justice will be given by our Minimum Income Guarantee scheme, I will share some of its details with pride."
"This is a historic scheme for the whole world," he said, adding, "I've been asked wherever I go, what will be the line of this minimum income, and how many people will it help?" (He had first spoken of such a scheme before the end-2018 Assembly elections)
He answered his own question: "I want to tell people, the line is Rs 12,000 per month. Are you shocked or not? This much money is there in India. Congress guarantees that India's 20% poorest families... wait for it... will get Rs 72,000 every year."
He repeated this claim, "I say it again - in a year, 20% poorest families, irrespective of caste or creed - will get Rs 72,000 in their bank accounts," and also added a political attack, "If Narendra Modi can give India's richest people money than Congress can give India's poorest money."
Claiming to add details, he said it would be implemented in a phased manner and went on to give erroneous figures about the recently launched farmer income guarantee scheme: "There will be justice. The scheme will be in a phased manner. Prime Minister says he gave money to farmers. He gave Rs 3.5 and there was clapping. You are being misled."
He then began to explain, saying, "Minimum Income Line is Rs 12,000. The difference between the minimum income line and the income will be topped up. You are looking shocked (addressing reporters). I am telling you that you're being robbed every day."
Once again beginning to extol the scheme, he spoke about how global economists had vetted it: "We will show you how much and what is yours. We have studied this for 4-5 months. We've done a detailed analysis with well-known global economists. It'll be a fiscally prudent scheme. We will implement in phases."
He added that it was similar in-principle with the rural employment guarantee scheme, "We implemented MGNREGA, we will implement this also. In India, everyone is working. We are saying, that if you're working and your income is less than Rs 12,000, we'll make up the difference. Our philosophy is that if your income is below Rs 12,000 you can't come out of it. We want to remove these people from below minimum income. MGNREGA was the first scheme, now in step two, we'll move 25 crore people out of poverty. (A family is five people, Rahul Gandhi defined)"
"We've done all examination, global economists have backed us, we'll implement these schemes," the Congress president said.