Income scheme: Bid to ‘cheat’ poor, says Arun Jaitley; ‘shameful’ reaction, retorts Congress

Income scheme: Bid to ‘cheat’ poor, says Arun Jaitley; ‘shameful’ reaction, retorts Congress
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NEW DELHI, March 25: Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s election promise of giving Rs 72,000 per year to the poorest families triggered a bitter spat on Monday between the ruling BJP and the opposition party.
Calling Rahul’s announcement a “bluff”, finance minister Arun Jaitely said 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.
“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 this trap this time,” he said.
Hitting back at Jaitley’s barb, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said it is “shameful” that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Arun Jaitley are opposing the opposition party’s vow to alleviate poverty through the “#NyayForIndia” scheme.
“Modiji & @arunjaitley have happily waived off Rs 3.17 Lakh Cr for a handful of corny friends! Shameful that they oppose World’s Biggest Anti-Poverty Scheme- #NyayForIndia meant for 20% of India i.e 5 Cr families. ‘Suited-Booted”’ BJP has always treated India’s poor with disdain,” Surjewala said on Twitter.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram asked whether the finance minister supports or opposes the scheme for the poorest familiies in India.
“Dear Finance Minister. We have announced “NYAY” (justice) for the poorest 5 crore families in the country. Do you support or oppose it,” the former finance minister tweeted.
Jaitley, who tore into the Congress’s plan in a Facebook post and a press conference, said that Rahul 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.
The government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been giving away Rs 5.34 lakh crore to the poor families, he said.
“What sort of favour will they (Congress) do to the poor by giving them Rs 3.6 lakh crore? We are already giving them one-and-a-half times more,” he said, noting that the 20 per cent poorest families are already getting Rs 1.06 lakh each under various government schemes against Rs 72,000 promised by the Congress.
“If the Congress Party’s announcement is tested on simple arithmetic, Rs.72,000 for five crore families works out to be Rs.3.6 lakh crore, which is less than 2/3rd of what is being given (by the current government)- A bluff announcement,” Jaitley said.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said his party was not surprised that the BJP is opposing the scheme as they are “fundamentally against policies which benefit the marginalised and poor”.
Earlier today, Congress president Rahul Gandhi promised that the poorest 20 per cent families will be given Rs 72,000 annually as a minimum income if his party is voted to power in the Lok Sabha elections.
Five crore families and 25 crore people will directly benefit from the scheme, he claimed, terming it is a “final assault” to eradicate poverty in the country. (Agencies)