Welcoming the Congress’s promise of rolling out a minimum income guarantee scheme if voted to power, NCP MP Supriya Sule on Tuesday said while the BJP had only offered jumlas (non-serious remarks), the Congress and the NCP had always believed in delivering on their promises.
Speaking during an Idea Exchange at The Indian Express office in Pune, Sule, who is the NCP candidate for the Lok Sabha elections from Baramati, said the biggest challenges ahead of the country right now were agrarian crisis and unemployment, and on both these issues, the government had “failed utterly”.
Sule said the Congress promise of minimum income guarantee scheme had the consent of the NCP and other allies. “Of course, we are on board, and we have been consulted… We don’t do jumlas. So far, we have only seen jumlas from this government. But we only bite what we can chew. We have always delivered what we have promised to the people,” she said.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi had on Monday said his party would provide Rs 72,000 every year to 20 per cent of the poorest families in India, as universal basic income, if it was voted to power. Sule on Tuesday said the scheme would be an important part of the common minimum programme of the Congress alliance, whenever it is formed.
The details of how the Congress intends to fund or implement the programme is not yet clear. The party has also not specified whether the scheme will be in addition to all the existing subsidies under various central government schemes, or would subsume these schemes. Sule admitted that she too did not have the details, but said that some “restructuring” of existing schemes was also possible.
“There are many ways of doing this. Please understand, Mr P Chidambaram has been finance minister of this country. Let us have faith in the people who have delivered superior results for this country in the past… Eventually, we will ask them to give us a clear roadmap to everyone on how this programme will be implemented,” she said.
Sule claimed that, in contrast, the Rs 6,000 amount announced by the Narendra Modi government, for farmers with up to 2 hectares of land holdings, in this year’s interim Budget was yet to reach the public. “We were told in Parliament that the government had planned for this in December. But the first installment of this amount (Rs 2,000) is still to reach the people. The money has not come, at least not in my constituency. You can ask the people… or the banks where it would first arrive. It hasn’t come,” she said.
Sule, who is seeking a third term in the Lok Sabha, said the biggest problem that she comes across in her constituency is that of educated unemployment. “With technology, and more and more automation, this is only going to get worse. We need more technocrats on board (to provide a roadmap to deal with this). This government, unfortunately, has done nothing,” she said.