Editorial: From Suit-Boot Ki Sarkar to NYAY: Congress’ Attack on Modi Government-led Cronyism Gets Big Push
Congress is aggressively playing to its strengths and is set to replicate its success from December 2018 in three states, nationally.
In a path-breaking announcement, the Congress Party has launched its trump card, that of guaranteeing Rs 72, 000 per annum to about five crore families (25 crore persons) who are at the bottom 20 per cent of India.
This, a variant of the much-discussed Universal Basic Minimum programme, believes in ensuring that the most impoverished families get lifted and enabled to ensure food and shelter. A sharp left-turn towards the politics of building capabilities and developing its citizens as a human resource had always been visible as part of UPA -1’s guaranteed Farm work as an initiative. But this. As it comes as part of a manifesto, guaranteed before being elected to office as an offer by India’s biggest Opposition is a bigger signal on welfare economics than even the adoption of MNREGA, which happened after the party won the polls in 2004 and formed the United Progressive Alliance.
Being termed as NYAY or Nyuntam Aay Yojana, to connect the idea of economic wellbeing or uplift with justice has strong implications on the positioning of the Congress versus the pro-business Modi-led BJP.
There has been a slow and less-commented upon drift in the Congress towards becoming a party keen on signalling that it is more OBC-friendly than ever before. This has been most recently witnessed in its choice of two OBC Chief Ministers after the December 2018 state election wins.
With this big move and an offer “after having done the maths”, the Congress has consciously rounded the circle of its earlier characterisation of the Modi government as being a ‘Suit-Boot ki sarkar.’ That remark hit the BJP tremendously hard then and forced them to climb down on the Land Acquisition Ordinance they tried to force five times, to make it easier for industries to acquire land of the poor.
Now, the Congress is saying that it wants to spend Rs 3, 60,000 crore on 25 crore of the poorest Indians, contrasting it with the BJP’s loan-waiver of Rs 3,16,500 of wealthy defaulters over just three years.
This fault-line pushes the BJP on the back foot as after its Rs 15 lakh in each account promise was admitted by Party President Amit Shah to be a “political jumla” in 2015. They would not know how to respond to a win-win formula like this after that fiasco especially with the Economy having run into the ground, with Pakoda sellers and other self-employed being hard-pressed to make ends meet.
The BJP has tried its ’10 per cent’ reservation for poor upper castes earlier this year, but there has not been any buzz around that. Its massive propaganda machinery is now out, trying to create a ‘Balakot’ effect and keep the temperature high on even petty-mindedness regarding Pakistan being spun as ‘national security’.
The BJP would be concerned with Congress operating on the front foot and choosing its words carefully — a “final assault” on poverty.