Responding to widespread confusion, the Congress Party offered further details about Rahul Gandhi’s new Rs 12,000 minimum income guarantee scheme.
UPDATE: The Congress on Tuesday changed the scheme announced on Monday, and removed any reference to Rs 12,000. It clarified that the scheme will only apply to the bottom 20%, and their income levels will not be used to calculate the subsidy payable to them. Instead, they will all be paid Rs 6,000 per month, irrespective of how much their monthly income is. People falling outside the bottom 20% will not be paid any money, even if they have low income levels. There is no other aspect or attribute to the scheme, and it has no relationship to the Rs 12,000 mark anymore.
Praveen Chakravarty, head of Congress’ social media operations, captured the essential elements of the scheme in two bullet points.
1: Poorest 20% of families will be guaranteed Rs 72,000 a year
2: With this, no Indian family will fall below a minimum income threshold of Rs 12,000 a month.
However, his explanation created a lot of confusion among the Twitterati, as the first bullet point suggested that the minimum income guarantee was Rs 72,000 per year, or Rs 6,000 per month, while the second bullet point suggested that the minimum guaranteed income was Rs 12,000 per month, or Rs 1.44 lakh per year.
Adding to the confusion, Rahul Gandhi had clearly said in his press conference that the minimum guaranteed income for a family was Rs 12,000.
“The minimum income threshold is 12,000. Any family earning less than this, the government will pay the difference,” Gandhi said.
Local level Congress leaders too were at a loss as to how to explain the seeming discrepancy between the two claims.
Responding to the confusion, Chakravarty sent out yet another tweet clarifying that the minimum guarantee of Rs 12,000 per month did not apply to those identified as poor families.
For them, an amount of Rs 6,000 per month will be given, and no questions will be asked about how much they are earning.
In other words, even if a family earns Rs 10,000 a month, it will be given Rs 6,000 per month, if it is categorized as belonging to the ‘bottom 20%’.
“Every poor family in the bottom 20% will get the same, uniform amount of ₹72,000 a year,” Chakravarty clarified.
Meanwhile, for people who do not get classified as “bottom 20%”, the government will give a guaranteed income of Rs 12,000 per month.
For them, the government will offer a ‘gap payment’ to ensure that they are earning at least Rs 12,000.
For example, if a family earns Rs 11,000, and does not fall in the bottom 20% by income, it will be provided a subsidy of only Rs 1,000 per month.
A family that earns Rs 8,000 per month will be provided a subsidy of Rs 4,000 per month and so on.
Similarly, if a family has no earning member, it will come in the ‘bottom 20%’. Hence, it will be not be covered by the Rs 12,000 minimum guarantee, but will instead of be covered by the Rs 6,000 scheme.
Government officials will be tasked with identifying the ‘bottom 20%’ poor families, who will be sent monthly cheques of Rs 6,000, as well as ‘above 20%’ families who earn less than Rs 12,000 per month.
These families will be eligible for a monthly payment based on what they are earning, so that their total income will be equal to Rs 12,000.
FUNDING AND ROLL-OUT
Responding to criticism that the government will not have enough money to implement the scheme, Chakravarty said it will not be a central scheme, but a joint state-central scheme.
In other words, if the scheme is to be implemented in a state, the government of the state too should be willing to cough up part of the money, much like the Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme of the Modi government.
Such schemes are not implemented in those states where the local government refuses to contribute to the expenses of the scheme.
The Ayushman Bharat scheme, for example, is not implemented in West Bengal as the local government was not willing to pay for the costs.