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The Usual Poverty Song by Gandhis: An Old Tired Tune

Garibi Hatao Congress Slogan

With Lok Sabha Elections approaching in 2019, political parties and their leaders are not leaving any stone unturned in wooing the voters. Towards this end, Rahul Gandhi, the Congress President has also been making many promises to the countrymen. He recently came out with his slogan of poverty and hunger eradication, if his party is voted to power. He tweeted the following.

  • It is interesting to recall that the same promise was made by his grandmother Indira Gandhi in early 1970s when she gave the slogan, ‘Garibi Hatao’.
  • In 1980s, the same slogan was also used by Rajiv Gandhi, father of Rahul Gandhi when he was fighting the election after the death of his mother Indira Gandhi.
  • In early 2000s, Sonia Gandhi-led UPA went on to make the same promise of ‘Sonia Lao, Garibi Hatao’ when it was fighting against the development driven election campaign of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
  • Now in 2019, Rahul Gandhi repeats the same promise to eradicate poverty and hunger by giving ‘Minimum Income Guarantee’. One may wonder that despite Congress having been in power for at least 50 years since independence and repeated promises of Garibi Hatao since 1971, why does India continue to reel under poverty?

The answer to this is, either the promise was hollow or intent dishonest from the start itself. So in the end the Congress governments couldn’t achieve much in terms of the goal of eradication of poverty.

This repeated promising and not fulfilling them by Indira, Rajiv, Sonia, and now Rahul Gandhi suggests that as and when the election season is on and Congress aspires to come to power even when facing defeat, they simply come out with this old tired formula of eradicating poverty. The rationale behind this is no rocket science but only to lure the poor people of the country in voting for them.

Here is a Fact Check for Rahul Gandhi

As soon as the Modi government took charge in 2014, there has been a huge decline in the poverty in India, according to a study by Brookings and World Poverty Calculator.

  • In a span of just two years, almost half of the population who were in extreme poverty in February 2016 have come out of it. See the graph below.

  • In the light of India’s latest household survey of 2017/18 (to be released in 2019), World Data Lab anticipates that the level of extreme poverty will further come down to 40 million or 4 crores (a poverty rate of below 3 percent) by 2019-end.
  • Further, the report says that the world may have underestimated India’s achievements in fast reducing extreme poverty.

Thus, the New India has seen drastic reduction in poverty numbers with the government continuing to make efforts towards this goal. Therefore, singing the poverty tunes by the Congress President may not lure voters into his favour any more.