Congress fails to highlight a promise having more potential than NYAY
New Delhi, April 04: The Congress has failed to properly highlight an important promise in its manifesto, which has more potential than its much-hyped Nyuntam Aay Yojna (NYAY) or Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on March 26 announced that 20% of the poorest families in the country would be annually given Rs. 72,000 each under the NYAY, if his party would voted to power.
When he released the Congress manifesto on Tuesday then also his main focus was on NYAY. He said, "Narendra Modi said he deposit Rs 15 lakh in every bank account after bringing back black money. We all know that was a lie. We didn't lie but did groundwork and arrived at the figure of Rs 72,000 per year; Rs 3,60,000 in five years. This will go directly to their accounts. And this will help remonetize what Modi had demonetised."
His next emphasis was on jobs when he said, "Modi promised 2 crore jobs, but didn't deliver. We will fill 22 lakh government vacancies and provide 10 lakh jobs in panchayats."
The NYAY scheme, if implemented in letter and spirit, will benefit 5 crore poor families and 25 crore individuals directly.
Analysts say that the Right to Homestead Act has much more potential than the NYAY as its target population is over 10 crore.
The Act envisages providing free land to the landless people to build a home.
The Congress manifesto says, "We will pass the Right to Homestead Act to provide a homestead for every household that does not own a home or own land on which a house may be built. "
According to the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011, there are 24.3 crore households in India, of which 17.91 crore live in villages. Of these, 10.69 crore households are considered as deprived.
If this Act comes into force then landless people living in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Maharashtra, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana would be benefitted.
It is notable that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had set up a task force to finalise a draft of the National Right to Homestead Bill 2013.
Then Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh headed the task force. In 2012, the Jan Satyagraha movement of thousands of landless people had started marching towards Delhi. The march, spearheaded by the Ekta Parishad, had ended in Agra after Ramesh agreed to a charter of their demands, with the Right to Homestead and a National Land Reforms Policy heading the list.
It is believed that Ramesh has advised the Congress Manifesto Committee to include Right to Homestead Act in the manifesto for 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Since the manifesto has not elaborated this important promise, now the onus will be on the Congress leaders and workers to highlight The Right to Homestead Act very aggressively to take maximum political benefit out of it.
The Homesteads Acts were enacted in the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand, and Britain by which an applicant could acquire ownership of government land or the public domain, typically called a homestead.
The first of the acts, the Homestead Act of 1862, opened up millions of acres of land in the United States.
Even in the United States, the Homestead Acts were abused. So, the first challenge will be to implement the Act and the second would be to ensure that the rightful persons get the land.