NYAY will be tested in Kerala if Cong-led UDF voted to power: Rahul

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Kottayam/Kochi, Mar 23 (PTI) Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who has been pushing for Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) -- a proposed minimum income guarantee scheme -- on Tuesday promised people of poll-bound Kerala that the scheme will be 'tested' in the southern state if the party-led UDF is voted to power.

'I have a selfish reason to test it,' he said at an election meeting organised at Manarcad in Puthuppally Assembly constituency represented by former chief minister and senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy.

Flanked by Chandy and Congress General Secretary K C Venugopal on a roofless campaign vehicle, Gandhi said he was confident about the success of the NYAY scheme.

Rs 72,000 a year will go straight into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.

'And we know what is going to happen next. We are testing a new idea in Kerala,' Gandhi told party workers who gathered in large numbers around the campaign vehicle to listen to his speech.

Bringing up the idea during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Gandhi had described it as ground-breaking, which would mark the beginning of the final assault on poverty.

Gandhi said he wanted to 'test' the scheme in Kerala because if it works here, he wanted to replicate it in all Congress-ruled states in the country.

'Kerala is going to show the rest of India how to end poverty once and for all,' he said.

Earlier, addressing a meeting at Paruthumpara near here, Gandhi said, 'The first thing we are going to do when we form the government is to start NYAY yojana.' 'We are not going to ask you where you come from, how old you are, whether you believe in one religion or another religion. If you are from Kerala and you need support, we will give it to you. This is the idea of NYAY,' he said.

'After we bring NYAY Yojna to Kerala, there will be no empty bank accounts in the state,' the former Congress chief said.

Gandhi had stressed on the importance he gives to the NYAY scheme during his election campaign on Monday.

'This is not charity. We are giving you money through NYAY. We are putting money in your pockets so that you can spend it. This was the only way to uplift the Indian economy which collapsed due to the demonetisation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his flawed GST implementation and the COVID-19 pandemic,' Gandhi said.

In its manifesto for the April 6 Assembly polls, the Congress-led UDF has promised a Rs 2,000 'pension' for homemakers, Rs 72,000 annually to the poor under 'Nyay Yojana' and five lakh homes for the underprivileged.

Winding up his two-day Kerala election campaign, Gandhi said, 'The mood in Kerala is clear. People want change and we will deliver.' He said the Congress-led UDF was committed to Kerala's safety, security and all-round growth. 'We will ensure the state is redirected to the path of development', Gandhi said.

Amid criticism that the Congress denied tickets to deserving women leaders in the April 6 polls, Gandhi promised to field more women in the next Assembly polls in the state.

'Next time, I want to see more women in our candidacy. My next job is to make that happen. Also, in due course of time my dream is to give Kerala a woman chief minister', said Gandhi who represents Kerala's Wayanad seat in Lok Sabha.

Attacking the state's ruling CPI(M)-led LDF, Gandhi said the left front has stolen the future of the youth.

'One of the highest unemployment rates in the country is in Kerala. If you want a job in Kerala, you have to be a member of the left organisation', Gandhi said referring to the recent protest by youths in front of the secretariat against the alleged backdoor appointments by the government. PTI TGB NSD