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Shashi Tharoor, people didn’t vote for Congress. Not because they were selfish, but because they were smart

A campaign may be over. But the evil that they did lives on.

A campaign may be over. But the evil that they did lives on. We deserve to know what they were willing to do to honest hardworking people in the country in order to fulfill the ambitions of a lazy and entitled dynast.

Going into the General Election 2019, the biggest idea that the Congress had to offer was a Minimum Income Guarantee (NYAY). A guaranteed sum of Rs 72000 to every poor household. What’s “poor”? Who gets to identify the “poor” and how do you define “household”? We were never told these details and likely deliberately so.

But the most important detail that was officially kept hidden was where the money would come from.

The hints were obvious, though. They were planning to shake down the honest middle class taxpayer.

That’s MIT “economist” Abhijit Banerjee, the adviser for the NYAY scheme.

This isn’t even a case of middle class vs poor. Mr. “Economist” Abhijit Banerjee also wanted to use the “inflation tax”, which must be a cute academic term for letting prices spiral out of control, used by people who are sitting in Boston and will not have to bear the brunt.

In other words, everyone would be punished: both poor and middle class. The only intended beneficiary of NYAY was Rahul Gandhi himself.

But when Rahul Gandhi was asked to clarify, he personally assured that the money for his minimum guarantee scheme would not come from extra taxes on ordinary folks.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi claiming the fund for NYAY won’t come from income tax.

Not that anybody believed him at the time, on this or any other issue, but it is satisfying to have a senior Congress leader admit this finally. Now that the campaign is over.

Senior Congress leader and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor contradicting Rahul Gandhi’s stand.

That’s Shashi Tharoor in his interview published today in The Hindustan Times. There you have it! Shashi Tharoor admits that it would be the “professional classes” centered in urban areas who would be paying for it.

Compare this with Rahul Gandhi’s statement that “Money won’t be taken from the middle class and income tax won’t be raised.”

Also notice how unabashed the Congress Party is. Not a lick of shame or repentance about the fact that their entire campaign was based on lies. Instead they are regretting the fact that news of NYAY reached only those who were going to be scammed by it and not those whose votes they wanted to buy.

The Congress Party has ruled this nation for close to 60 years. If anyone had the time and opportunity to address India’s poverty, it was them. Indira Gandhi promised to make a beginning in 1971, after the Congress had enjoyed uninterrupted power for 24 years. How did that go?

As I pointed out in a previous article, by 1974 the inflation had risen to 28.6%, the highest income tax rate had risen to 97% and the GDP growth meanwhile had collapsed to 1.2%! No wonder Indira Gandhi had to impose Emergency the next year. And in 2019, after the Congress had ruled for almost 60 years, Rahul Gandhi tried to claw his way back to power by announcing a vote buying yojana. No wonder the poor saw through it.

Now let me say a word about those “professional classes” that the Congress was planning to soak in order to fund its vote buying scheme. Who are these professional classes?

See, Nehruvian socialism kept India poor for forty years as the world raced ahead. Then, some reforms were made in the early 90s when India was at the brink of bankruptcy. A small group of people made use of this window of opportunity to escape from the clutches of utmost poverty and make a slightly better life for themselves. They slogged through school, competed with lakhs of others for a seat in a decent college and then squeezed themselves into a decent job. They achieved a moderate standard of living, something that even someone with a high school education in the first world would take for granted.

And so the Congress Party’s zamindars have their eye on this new professional class, the ones who have made their way in life without coming from the ranks of the high born in Lutyens Delhi. The NYAY idea was the plan of these Congress zamindars to extort money from those they saw as upstarts.

And when they heard murmurs of discontent, they tried emotional blackmail.

You see, unlike the Congress zamindars who have been ruling the nation for generations, these professional classes are known to suffer from something called ‘conscience’. Because they are drawn from the ranks of ordinary folk and they do relate to the suffering of the absolute poor.

The Congress tried to use their conscience against them by sending them on a guilt trip. It didn’t work.

Congress leader Sam Pitroda patronising the middle class

Who are they calling “selfish”? Does the Congress elite know what it takes to get a seat in a decent college or  even a seat in a local train? Does the Congress elite know how hard it is to earn that paycheck? And how it feels when the government dips into that paycheck and collects a hefty tax? Rahul Gandhi would know if he had ever earned anything in his whole life.

How would he know? All he gets is one more promotion every time he fails at something.

The money that the government takes out of paychecks of ordinary people is not for entitled dynasts to buy votes with. It isn’t free.

And by the way, Shashi Tharoor is wrong about one more thing. It’s not just 50 percent of people who had heard about NYAY.  Everybody had heard about it, poor, middle class or rich. These days news spreads on the internet in a matter of minutes. You can wag your tail and thank Rajiv Gandhi for it if you want.

Everybody had heard about 72,000. They just didn’t believe it. People didn’t vote for you. Not because they were selfish. But because they were smart.

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a columnist and author.  

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