HYDERABAD: The Congress party is confident of its prospects in 10 Lok Sabha segments in the State, said AICC in-charge for Telangana Rama Chandra Khuntia on Saturday. Speaking to Express at Gandhi Bhavan, the party’s headquarters in Telangana, Khuntia said AICC chief Rahul Gandhi’s proposed Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme, also known as Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY), would trump State Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s Rythu Bandhu and would ensure the party does well in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Khuntia, who has toured seven Lok Sabha segments so far, claims to have seen the tide turn in favour of Congress... Congress suffered a jolt in the Assembly elections held only three months ago. Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, do you see any improvement in your party’s prospects?
I have so far toured Khammam, Nalgonda, Malkajgiri, Hyderabad, Secunderabad, Zaheerabad and Mahabubnagar (Lok Sabha) segments. The overall situation is very favourable.
How good a chance do your candidates have?
I think we have an edge in Khammam, Nalgonda, Bhongir, Malkajgiri, Secunderabad, Zaheerabad, Chevella, Mahabubabad, Peddapalli and Adilabad Lok Sabha segments.
What are the poll issues for Congress?
We have been highlighting Rahul Gandhi’s brainchild, the Minimum Income Guarantee scheme. As per the UN, around 90 crore people live below the hunger line and 22 per cent below the poverty line (BPL). Congress has decided to give food to them. By giving people the right to food and a minimum guarantee, we can definitely eradicate poverty in the country.
Around 20 per cent of the population — 5 crore families — live on Rs 6,000 per month. Rahul Gandhi has promised to provide them Rs 6,000 per month so that their monthly income is doubled. The aim is that no family should have to live under Rs 12,000 per month. The entire scheme will cost just Rs 1.8 lakh crore per year. When the Modi government waived loans to the tune of Rs 3.43 lakh crore for industrialists as a one-time-settlement, why can’t we give money to the poor.
How is the public responding to this idea?
We have gotten a good response in Telangana. We are highlighting other promises such as enhancing the minimum support price for agriculture produce, expanding the health and education sectors and also creation of employment opportunities.
It seems that TRS is strong in the State. It won 88 seats in the Assembly elections. How can you expect such a sudden change in voters?
The voters are influenced by local issues in Assembly elections. They voted for schemes like Rythu Bandhu, Aasara pensions and Shaadi Mubarak. This is a national election. Rahul’s Minimum Income Guarantee will definitely influence voters. Rythu Bandhu is no match for the Minimum Income Guarantee scheme.
Congress says the polls are a fight between Rahul Gandhi and PM Modi. But in Telangana, TRS is a key player...
A few days ago, both Modi and KCR started criticising each other. This is nothing but an election drama. In the last eight years, KCR never uttered a word against Modi. Now, just eight days (sic) before the polls, he is attacking him for minority votes. KCR, as is evident, has no role in national politics. The polls are indeed between Rahul and Modi.
Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to visit Zaheerabad, Wanaparthy and Huzurnagar soon. Will he come back to cover some more segments?
We have requested Rahul Gandhi to come again to the State to address three more meetings in Mahabubabad, Mancherial and Bhongir.