Rahul Vows Guaranteed Minimum Income

We cannot build a new India while millions of our brothers & sisters suffer the scourge of poverty. If voted to power in 2019, the Congress is committed to a Minimum Income Guarantee for every poor person, to help eradicate poverty & hunger. This is our vision & our promise.

— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) January 28, 2019 Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram also termed as “historic” Gandhi’s announcement, saying it will mark a turning point in the lives of the downtrodden. The announcement comes four days ahead of the interim budget to be presented by the Narendra Modi government before the Lok Sabha polls due before June this year. It also follows the NDA government’s decision to give 10 per cent quota to the economically backward section in the general category and a likely announcement of a relief package for farmers grappling with falling prices of their crops and to tackle distress in the farm sector. The BJP said Gandhi’s assurance is like its “hundreds of other announcements” which were not meant to be implemented and an “off the cuff” announcement made “without any preparation or any provision for funding or proper agenda”. “The Congress has decided to take a historic decision…The Congress-led government is going to give minimum income guarantee. This means, every poor person in India will have a minimum income. This means there will be no hungry, poor people in India (any longer),” Gandhi said. Asserting that he gets done what he says, Gandhi added the minimum income guarantee would be implemented across the country. Later, he tweeted, “We cannot build a new India while millions of our brothers & sisters suffer the scourge of poverty.” “If voted to power in 2019, the Congress is committed to a Minimum Income Guarantee for every poor person, to help eradicate poverty & hunger. This is our vision & our promise,” he said in his tweet. “We don’t want two Indias. There will be one India, and in that India, the Congress will give minimum income to every poor person. No government in the world has done this till now. The Congress is going to do that, it will be a historic feat,” Gandhi said at the rally. The BJP-led Union government wrote off Rs 3.5 lakh crore worth of loans of 15 big industrialists but “did not waive the loans of the country’s farmers”, he alleged. Continuing his attack on the Centre over the Rafale figher jet deal, he reiterated the allegation that the government ensured a “benefit” of Rs 30,000 crore to industrialist Anil Ambani in this “world’s biggest defence contract”. Both the Government and Ambani have rejected the allegation. On the contrary, the BJP-led governments cited lack of funds whenever the Congress demanded farm loan waiver, Gandhi alleged. “Narendra Modi and the BJP want to create two Indias — one of loan waiver (for industrialists), Rafale scam, Anil Ambani, Mehul Choksi, Nirav Modi and Narendra Modi. In that you will get whatever you want…if you want Rafale contract, you will get it. If you want land, water, electricity, you will get it,” Gandhi said. “The other India is of the poor, the weak, farmers, the youth. You are not going to get anything in that India. There you will only get ‘Mann Ki Baat’, 24 hours only ‘Mann Ki Baat’,” Gandhi said, referring to the prime minister’s monthly radio address. Gandhi also said the Congress had promised to waive farm loans in Chhattisgarh within 10 days of coming to power, but implemented the decision within a day after forming the government. He also distributed loan waiver certificates to some of the beneficiary farmers during the event, which was attended by Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and senior Congress leader P L Punia. The Congress posted a massive victory in last year’s Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, winning 68 of the total 90 seats and ending the BJP’s 15-year rule. Garibi Hatao (“Remove Poverty”) was the theme and slogan of Indira Gandhi’s campaign for the 1971 Lok Sabha elections which was won by the Congress under her leadership giving her a second term as the prime minister. “People of India know the reality of Congress and have seen through its games,” BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said. “Gandhi’s claim to provide minimum income guarantee for the poor is like hundreds of Congress announcements which are not meant to be implemented. His party remained in power for 58 years at the Centre and made thousands of announcement. If they had been implemented, the face of the country, including of the poor, would have been different,” Prasad said. In a series of tweets, Chidambaram, a former union finance and home minister, said 140 million people were lifted out of poverty between 2004 and 2014, when the Congress-led UPA was in power. “Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s announcement at the farmers’ rally in Chhattisgarh is historic and will mark a turning point in the lives of the poor,” he said. Chidambaram said the principle of Universal Basic Income (UBI) has been discussed extensively in the last two years and the time has come to adapt the principle to the country’s situation and the needs and implement the same for the poor. “We will explain our plan in the Congress Manifesto,” he said. Chidambaram is the chairman of Manifesto Committee of the Congress for the 2019 polls. The Congress leader said “the poor in India have the first charge on the resources of the country and the party will find the resources to implement the promise of Rahul Gandhi”. “140 million people were lifted out of poverty between 2004 and 2014. Now we should make a determined effort to wipe out poverty in India,” he added. (PTI)]]>

'Politicians need to deliver on promises'

One year ago, farmers seeking loan waivers and better crop prices faced off with the cops at Piplya Mandi and Bhai Choupati in Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh. The cops opened fire after their usual baton-and-teargas response failed to scatter the protesting farmers, mostly Patidars. Five farmers died; 17-year-old Abhishek Patidar was among them. Lokmarg met Abhishek’s father, Dinesh Patidar. Here’s what he had to say.

I have lost my son; this state (Madhya Pradesh) has lost so many farmers but their situation has not changed one bit. The condition of farmers in the country can be estimated from the fact that if we invest ₹100 in a crop we will earn only ₹40 to 60. Forget profit margins or breaking even, the question is about existence. And the situation is the same for every farmer no matter how much land they have. I was born to be a farmer. In the 1980s we used cattle for farming in 28 bighas (A bigha of land measures a little more than a fourth of an acre) of ancestral land. But as times changed technology came into place. New machinery, equipment, better irrigation facilities, fertilizers, and seeds, but this all has only increased our capital expenditure. We cannot even realise the price of a tubewell even after five years of farming. So despite new kinds of farming, the debt of farmers is only increasing. All the farmers are using latest seeds and fertilizer for better crop so that we can get better prices for our hard work but the end of the day we cannot get adequate price for our cultivation. I feel the government has taken few measures for the relief for farmers but those are only in government files as no relief or aid is reaching farmers. We are getting cheaper electricity but fuel to run latest machinery and equipments are abnormally high. Even the cost of transporting produce from our fields to the mandis (grain and vegetable markets) is only increasing. This region lost many farmers in police firing and lathi-charge in June 2017, but the farmer of this region is still forced to commit suicide. Where will a farmer go if he doesn’t even earn what he has invested? We Patidars believe giving subsidy or writing-off debt is a long-term solution. I strongly believe a farmer can grow only if he gets fair prices for his hard work. Farmer of this country can only prosper if the government makes sure each crop is brought at the right price. We still sometimes recall the violent action in which I lost my son. We are still angry that no action has been taken against the policemen who killed my son. One year after police firing in Mandsaur, anger among farmers persists. Abhishek was a class 12 student and was also one of the five killed in police firing against angry farmers demanding a better price for their produce, and a loan waiver. For political gains, politicians keep coming to our village but none of them are going to get my son back nor can they stop farmers’ suicide. Rahul Gandhi’s Mandsaur’s visit and farmers rally kick-started Congress’ MP election campaign but is there anything he can do in a BJP ruled state? Netas should now deliver their promises made to the farmers or there will be no one to work the fields.
With editorial assistance from Lokmarg  

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Rahul vs Jaitley: Who's got it right?

Rahul Gandhi’s speech on Wednesday in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, where he targeted Modi government over farm distress and rising losses of public sector banks, brought the claws out, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley taking to social media for a rebuttal of the Congress president’s charges. So who’s right? Here’a a fact-check: RaGa 1: The Modi government waived loans of Rs 2.5 lakh crore of 15 top industrialists. This is more a political statement. We have to learn how PSU banks are run and how they make a decision on long-term industrial loans. The role of annual auditors must also be taken into account. Top appointments in any PSU banks are made by the Union finance ministry of the day. While the NDA government did appoint a Bank Board Bureau in 2016 to bring transparency into these appointments, the control largely still remains with the government. Having said that, the NPAs (non-performing assets or bad loans) are decided over a period of time. Thus, for example, a loan sanctioned in 2007 may easily be declared an NPA (or bad loan), in 2018. So it would be premature to say or put a figure of loan waiver to industrialists by the Congress President squarely on the Modi Government. The banking system and its auditors are directly responsible for such loans and actions taken thereof. Jaitley counter: The bulk of today’s NPAs or bad loans was created in the banking system during the period 2008-14. This is a debatable issue. In a PSU bank, the board of directors, and its chairman, play an important role in approving a large sum of loan to an industrial house. Often, the boards criss-cross the tenure of governments led by different parties. In addition, when a loan is declared non-performing asset depends on the alacrity of the auditors. To bring into account the role of loan approvers and the auditors has been a recurrent observation of several committees formed for banking reforms and cut down on bad loans. Often, the date of approval of loans and the declaration of it as an NPA, need not reflect the true picture. It is the view of experts that auditors take a lenient view due to political duress. Thankfully, the recent PNB fraud and media outrage have brought some of these issues out in the open. RaGa 2: The NDA government is giving loans only to industrialists and not to farmers. This is a self-defeating statement. For, Gandhi himself said that if voted to power, the Congress will waive all the loans of Madhya Pradesh farmers within ten days of forming the government. If the farming community was not given any loan, how would the government waive them off? Jaitley claim: If jobs are not being created, how can the latest GDP data make India the fastest growing economy in the world? Not quite. Most economists agree that Indian economy has been witnessing jobless growth for several years. This means there is growth in the output of industrial, agricultural and service sector front, but the job numbers struggle to grow. The Modi government has often tried to disprove this by quoting figures in provident fund accounts and even ‘pakora economics’, but all economic indicators belie their claims on the job front, which some observers call a ticking time-bomb. RaGa 3: Modi has given Rs 35,000 crore each to two diamond jewellers who have now fled the country. This is a laughable statement. Even though the charges of crony capitalism tend to stick on the NDA government, to insinuate that Narendra Modi was personally involved in loans given to Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi is rhetoric nothing more.]]>