New Delhi: Congress President Rahul Gandhi said on Monday that nearly 25 crore poor people in the country will get financial assistance of Rs 72,000 per annum if the party is voted to power under the ambitious minimum income guarantee scheme which the party has named "Nyay" (Justice).
Announcing the details of the party's promised scheme at a media briefing here, Gandhi said the Congress will provide Rs 72,000 per annum to 20% of the poorest families in the country. The scheme will benefit 5 crore families and 25 crore individuals directly, according to Gandhi.
He said the scheme was "unprecedented in the world". "Nyay" (the minimum income scheme) will be the Congress' major poll promise ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and Gandhi termed it as "a final assault on poverty".
He said the "minimum income line" is Rs 12,000 per annum and the scheme will benefit individuals earning less than that.
Reacting to the poll promise at a press conference, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accused the Congress of “misleading the country for 50 years”, adding that "It is a bluff announcement. Congress does not have a history of tackling poverty, it merely runs its political business on this issue,”.
Earlier, the Congress president also said that the amount would be transferred directly to the accounts of 20% per cent of the poorest families," but subsequently clarified that the scheme would supplement the income of the poor if it is less than Rs 12,000 per month.
"The minimum income line is Rs 12,000 per month. Whatever the difference -- say the income is Rs 6,000 -- we will top it up. Those who earn less than Rs 12,000, we will take their earnings to Rs 12,000," Gandhi said.
He said the scheme will be implemented in phases and there will be a pilot project, adding that it was "fiscally perfectly possible" and the entire calculations have been already done. The Congress also held detailed analysis with leading economists on the matter.
"We have kept our promise of farm loan waiver in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh," he added.
Gandhi also referred to the MGNREGA, the rural employment guarantee scheme introduced by the UPA government, and said that it had taken 14 crore people out of poverty in its first phase.
"This is the second and final operation. We will bring 25 crore people out of poverty. This ground-breaking idea is the final assault on poverty," he said.
Gandhi, who addressed the media after a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), refused to take questions on other political issues.