EC writes to NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar, asks him to explain comments against Congress' minimum income scheme plan

In an interview, and on his Twitter, Rajiv Kumar had accused the Congress of promising the moon to win elections.

FP Staff March 27, 2019 08:45:14 IST
EC writes to NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar, asks him to explain comments against Congress' minimum income scheme plan
  • The Election Commission is learnt to have decided to seek details of remarks made by NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar in which he had attacked Congress over minimum income guarantee promise

  • Sources in the poll panel said, since Kumar is part of bureaucratic executive, and such remarks may be violative of the Model Code of Conduct

  • Kumar had accused the Congress of promising the moon to win elections

The Election Commission has reportedly written a letter to NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar asking him to explain his remarks criticising the Congress party over its pre-poll minimum income guarantee promise. Election Commission sources said that since Kumar is part of the "bureaucratic executive", such remarks might violate the Model Code of Conduct.

"It is not a case of one politician attacking the other or one party attacking the other," an EC functionary told PTI.  Kumar had accused the Congress of promising the moon to win elections. He had also tweeted, saying "The proposed income guarantee scheme fails the economics test, fiscal discipline test and execution test".

EC writes to NITI Aayog vicechairman Rajiv Kumar asks him to explain comments against Congress minimum income scheme plan

File image of Rajiv Kumar, vice chairman, NITI Aayog. PIB.

In another tweet, Kumar had claimed that, "true to its past record of promising the moon to win elections, Congress President announces a scheme that will bust fiscal discipline, create strong incentives against work and which will never be implemented."

Kumar is also reported to have made similar remarks in an interview to news agency ANI.

Kumar also said that the Congress party had promised Garibi Hatao in 1971, 'One Rank One Pension' in 2008, food security in 2013 to win elections, but could not fulfil any of those poll promises. The "same unfortunate fate" awaits the populist and opportunistic promise of minimum income guarantee, he added.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday announced that if his party comes to power, they will supplement the income of 20 percent families belonging to the poorest category and give out Rs 72,000 annually as minimum income, directly into the bank accounts of the housewives/ women of the family.

The announcement has kicked up a storm with the BJP claiming that the move is a poll-time placebo that is unimplementable, while the grand old party maintains that it consulted economists, including Raghuram Rajan before it came up with the idea.

The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) also criticised the pre-poll announcement by Gandhi in a series of tweets, but later deleted them after it was pointed by a Twitter user that they were in violation of the model code of conduct.

EAC-PM had tweeted that in the last five years, a lot of hard work has gone into striking the right balance between economic growth, inflation and fiscal discipline. "INC's income guarantee scheme (as of 25/03/2019) would either upset this balance or severely cut critical government spending. Both options dangerous," it said.

The proposed income guarantee scheme fails the economics test, fiscal discipline test and execution test, it added. When Twitter user @sumedhbhagwat pointed out to EAC-PM members that the tweets were in violation of the model code of conduct, Council's Chairman Bibek Debroy deleted the messages on the micro-blogging site. "Tweets being deleted. Thanks for pointing out," Debroy said in a tweet.

EAC-PM member Shamika Ravi also tweeted,"The ONLY detail that matters: will this be BUDGET NEUTRAL? In plain English: Are we to replace FOOD+FERTILISER+FUEL subsidies?."
Ratan P Watal, Rathin Roy and Ashima Goyal are also members of the council.

With inputs from agencies

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