‘Bluff announcement’, says Arun Jaitley on Rahul Gandhi’s Rs 12K income promise
New Delhi, Mar 25: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday slammed Congress president Rahul Gandhi for promising India's poor a "historic" minimum income guarantee scheme, described as a "bluff announcement"
The Finance Minister told reporters that the Congress has a history of cheating the poor and misleading the country in the name of removing poverty as it only gave them slogans but not the tools and resources.
Jaitley added up the expenditure incurred by the government on the ongoing welfare schemes to argue that the Narendra Modi government's welfare benefits to people averaged Rs 1,06,800 annually, as against the Rs 72,000 that the Congress seeks to promise.
"Merely slogans and statements will not remove poverty. It will go by providing resources which the Modi government has by giving the poor houses, gas connections, roads... You (Congress) have cheated the poor many times and are trying to do so again. But people will not fall in trap this time," he said.
The BJP drew comparisons with Indira Gandhi's "Garibi Hatao" in 1971, and said not much has changed since then.
Jaitley said,''Indira ji won election in 1971 on 'gareebi hatao' but she didn't take the necessary steps to remove poverty. She did not believe in increased productivity, she did not believe in generation of wealth, she only believed in redistribution of poverty.''
''You have misled the country on issue of poverty for 50 years. Even after giving that slogan (gareebi hatao) if today you think that 20% people don't even have an income of Rs 12,000, then the cross hangs on your neck for letting down poor of the country,'' he also said.
The Union Finance Minister, in his statement, claimed that the Narendra Modi government was already giving 1.5 times the amount promised by Mr Gandhi to the country's poor.
The sharp attack came soon after Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad hit out at the opposition party for its "anti-poor" stance for decades. "This showing of false dream to the people of India is not going to cut any ice because the Congress record of 55 years has always been anti-poor," said Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Earlier in the day, Rahul had announced a minimum income guarantee scheme of Rs. 72,000 a year for India's poorest families if the Congress came to power. He said that the money, which would be directly transferred to the bank accounts of 20% of the poorest in the country, would lift five crore families out of poverty.
The income guarantee plan fits with Rahul Gandhi's campaign pitch that targets Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling BJP, accusing them of working for the rich.
Jaitley, who wrote a Facebook post and later addressed a press conference, said Gandhi did not give any detail of the scheme and his party leaders have said it will not affect fiscal discipline which, he added, means that the existing schemes will be repackaged.