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Now is the time for the Congress to campaign on NYAY

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Before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress party felt India needed a universal basic income of sorts. Its plan was called NYAY, the Nyunatam Aay Yojana. The idea was that no Indian family should live on less than Rs 6,000 a month. If they do, the government must give them the shortfall.

The Congress lost the election badly and forgot all about NYAY. Despite projecting it as a dole of Rs 72,000 a year, NYAY failed to win votes for the Congress because it was launched with a very poor campaign, just a few days before polling began. Ideas take time and effort to spread. Even a banal, hollow slogan like “New India 2022” gained currency because Prime Minister Narendra Modi used it for two years, from 2017 to 2019 (and has now dumped).

India’s slowdown is arguably the biggest economic crisis since 1991. Lakhs of people have lost their jobs, incomes and wages are stagnating, not leaving people with enough money even to buy essentials like underwear and biscuits.

The winter of 2019, even more than the summer of 2019, is ripe for a real NYAY campaign. As PM Narendra Modi claims all is well and India is on its way to becoming a $5-trillion economy, the Congress and the opposition at large could throw him a simple challenge: universal basic income. The challenge could be refined further: give either a job or minimum basic income to every family. Naukri or NYAY.

If India is doing as well as Modi claims, no Indian family should be earning less than Rs 6,000 a month. And if one is, then the government should step in with help.

There will be many benefits of a NYAY campaign, if undertaken today.

Also read: If anything can defeat Modi, it’s the economy

First, it will help the opposition set the agenda. Mostly it is the Modi government that........

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