NYAY: Congress confident of increasing votes but not seats
New Delhi, April 1: Congress president Rahul Gandhi last Monday announced that 20% of the poorest families in the country would be annually given Rs. 72,000 each under the Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) or minimum income guarantee, if his party was voted to power.
Since the announcement has been made, the intelligentsia and media have been raising serious doubts over the viability of the scheme.
The Congress leadership, however, is convinced that the poor will vote for the Congress candidates in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections hoping to get Rs. 72000 per year.
When asked about the questions being raised over the NYAY, a Congress leader, in an off the record conversation, posed counter-questions: "Do you really believe that the poor voters will read and understand your (media 's) technical analysis of NYAY? Do all the media houses are finding fault with the NYAY? Has such a beckoning poll promise been made the first time in India? Weren't freebies offered in the past?"
The leader also mocked the media by saying that the same media brands will publish our NYAY advertisements which are questioning it.
"So, please don't tell me how media operate. And, come out of the misconception that media can dent the NYAY. The fact of the matter is that hunger doesn't understand logic. Poor have been voting in every election for those political parties that come up with lucrative promises for them. If Indians voted for Modi for Rs. 15 lakh, we are convinced the poor will also vote for the Congress for Rs. 6000 monthly income. It will be a game changer as the poor don't have anything to lose. Politics is all about raising hope and whether you accept it or not, the NYAY has given hope to poor," the leader said beamingly.
However, the Congress may be confident of increasing its votes but is puzzled how to convert the votes into seats.
The biggest hurdle for the Congress is that it doesn't have strong organisational setup and dedicated workers in key states to get optimum benefit from NYAY.
For example, there are a total of 208 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh. In 2014, the Congress had won only eight seats from these states.
These are the states where NYAY 's targeted population lives. The average income of villagers in Uttar Pradesh is Rs. 4923, Bihar Rs. 3558, Odisha Rs. 4976, West Bengal Rs. 3980 and Andhra Pradesh Rs. 5979.
While the Congress tally may increase in Bihar due to its alliance with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), it will be a mammoth task for the grand-old party to increase seats in Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh in the name of just only NYAY.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as opposed to the thinking within the Congress, doesn't seem too much perplexed over the impact of the NYAY.
Sources tell OneIndia that the BJP leadership is of the view that the increased votes of the Congress will damage other anti-BJP parties and that vote divide will ultimately benefit the saffron party.
"For example, the unity of Bahujan Samaj Party- Samajwadi Party will be weakened in Uttar Pradesh if the Congress increases its votes in every constituency, which will benefit the BJP," said a BJP source.
It also added that the NYAY will further weaken the feeble Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance).
"Can you name a political party that doesn't claim to work for the poor and seek their votes? So, which party of the so-called Mahagathbandhan would be comfortable with the Congress getting votes of the poor in bulk? Just wait and watch how these Mahagathbandhan parties will burst the Congress' NYAY bubble," said the source, adding that "of course, our over 10 crore party workers are there to expose Rahul Gandhi and his ill-conceived NYAY."
It seems that the Congress has announced the NYAY without the proper homework in haste and that is why its leaders have been giving contradicting statements.
While announcing the NYAY, Rahul had termed it as a "Top-up scheme" to provide every poor family a monthly income of Rs. 12,000.
"If a family earned Rs 6,000 per month, the government would give Rs 6,000 to help the family reach the minimum income mark of Rs 12,000," Rahul had said.
Later, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala denied that the NYAY is a top-up scheme and categorically stated that every demarcated family irrespective of its monthly income will get Rs 6,000 a month (72,000 a year).
Rahul himself has hinted that for implementing the NYAY many current subsidies may be scrapped, and noted Professor of Economics at MIT Abhijit Banerjee, who was consulted by the Congress over NYAY, has said that NYAY scheme will have to be funded by new taxes.
When the Congress realised that the talks of the new taxes will irk the middle class then it swung for damage control and came up with a new way to implement the NYAY.
Surjewala told a Hindi news channel that the party will finance the scheme by reducing five per cent of the central government's establishment expenditure that is Rs. 60 lakh crore.
Critiques say that Surjewala has lied as the actual expenditure is less than Rs. 60 lakh crore.