Congress sets sights on 2024 polls with Gruha Lakshmi launch; Karnataka turns ‘model for guarantees’

AICC chief Mallikarjun Kharge and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi launched the 4th guarantee Gruha Lakshmi Yojana in Mysuru on Raksha Bandhan.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Aug 31, 2023 | 10:48 AMUpdatedAug 31, 2023 | 10:49 AM

Karnataka Congress Rahul Gandhi Narendra Modi

The Congress is quickly turning its government in Karnataka as a model for other states in keeping promises.

With the Siddaramaiah-led government in Karnataka launching four out of the Congress’s five poll guarantees within 100 days in office, the Karnataka model has become the party’s go-to example to assert that it delivers on its ‘guarantees’.

The Congress’s countrywide campaign — with different wings lauding Siddaramaiah government on Wednesday, 30 August —  coinciding with the launch of Gruha Lakshmi was a display of how the party is making Karnataka government’s feat its own during the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The implementation of four out of the five promised schemes has also given the Congress enough ammunition to go after the Narendra Modi-led BJP government at the Centre, accusing it of fooling people with “false promises”.

Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi hit out at the BJP-led Union government during the launch ceremony of the Gruha Lakshmi Yojana at Mysuru in Karnataka on Wednesday.

They exuded confidence that they would return to power at the Centre in 2024, making the event for the launch of the scheme — under which the state government provides ₹2,000 monthly financial assistance to women heads of the family — a de facto platform to throw a challenge at the saffron party.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) president Kharge and former party head and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi launched the fourth guarantee, Gruha Lakshmi Yojana, said to be the biggest financial assistance scheme ever for women.

During the run-up to the 10 May Karnataka Assembly polls, the Congress had promised to implement five guarantees — including Gruha Lakshmi and the Shakti Scheme — if voted to power.

After the party won the state under the leadership of Siddaramaiah, it implemented three guarantees: Shakti Scheme (free travel for women in state-run buses), Gruha Jyothi (free power supply up to 200 units), and Anna Bhagya (10 kg of free rice to BPL and Antyodaya card-holders).

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Kharge lashes out at Modi, Shah

Kharge said at the event: “The people of this country have faith that a people-oriented government will soon overthrow the current regime and preserve the Constitution of the nation.”

He added: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah recently asked at a programme in Chhattisgarh what the Congress had done in the last 70 years, and demanded that the party present a report card. I have a report card with me that shows what our party has done. Beginning from Jawaharlal Nehru’s era to Manmohan Singh’s era, we have a report card that shows what work we have done.”

Kharge continued: “What does the BJP have? It might have something, but what kind of work has it done that deserves appreciation? It only criticises.”

Highlighting the Congress’ contribution to the welfare of the country, Kharge said: “From 1947 to 2014, the number of literates was only 18 percent, but by 2013-14, it had risen to 74. The Congress transformed such a large number of people into educated individuals. In 1947, the number of girls who could read and write was only 7 percent. By 2013-14, it reached 64 percent. The literacy rates of Dalits, tribals, and minorities were 66, 59, and 59 percent, respectively.”

He added: “The average lifespan in our country was only 34 years, but our Congress government’s healthcare and food programmes have brought it to 73 years. If a thousand children are born in our country, 30 of them die. Initially, more children used to die, but the Congress government reduced this. Look at Gujarat, and you’ll see that the BJP, known for spreading falsehoods, should feel ashamed.”

Kharge also said: “When India gained independence, there were only two lakh primary schools in the entire country. Today, there are eight lakh schools. Isn’t this progress? The Congress government implemented the Food Security Act to ensure that the poor don’t go hungry. Ambani, Adani, or Nirav Modi might exist, or maybe it’s some other Modi: They all took the money of our poor people and fled.”

He added: “The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), established to provide employment, was initiated by us. In 2014, the BJP claimed that it would stop the MGNREGA. Yet, it continues. Because they know that Congress has introduced people-oriented programmes. How long will the BJP keep blaming the Congress? Work first and then speak.”

Crediting Nehru and Sardar Valabhbhai Patel for uniting the country after independence, Kharge said: “If Nehru hadn’t become the prime minister after independence, this country wouldn’t have stayed united. Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel united this country. Still, you say that Congress hasn’t done anything. If we forget the Constitution of this country, we won’t exist. If you believe this country is progressing, it’s because of the power and authority granted by the Constitution.”

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Modi works only for crorepatis: Rahul Gandhi

Lashing out at Prime Minister Modi, Rahul Gandhi said: “There is a ‘fashion’ these days that the government in Delhi only works for crorepatis.”

“The government policies only favour their two to three friends. The entire development happens only for these two to three people,” he said, apparently referring to industrialists Gautam Adani and Mukesh Ambani.

“Our thinking is that the government should work for the welfare of the poor and the oppressed. It should not leave anyone behind, irrespective of their caste and religion,” Gandhi took a potshot at Modi’s administration.

Gandhi said: “Our guarantee schemes were mocked by the Union government, but are now being duplicated. Talking about the guarantee schemes, the prime minister used to say that the Congress party is lying, but the truth is in front of you today.”

“Gurha Lakshmi scheme is India’s largest direct bank account deposit scheme and 1.1 crore women will benefit from it,” he said, reiterating that the Congress was committed to women empowerment.

“Through the Shakti Yojana, women across Karnataka are travelling, having three meals a day through the Anna Bhagya scheme, and spending the rest of their money on their children’s education with the help of free electricity. These are revolutionary changes that we have brought about,” Gandhi said, highlighting the benefits of empowering women through these guarantees in Karnataka.

Also read: 100-days-of-corruption, says Karnataka BJP on Congress government

‘Raksha Bandhan gift’

Addressing a huge gathering of women in Mysuru, Gandhi said: “In the run-up to the legislative Assembly elections, we had announced five guarantees to the people of Karnataka.”

“We had the confidence to promise them, and as we assured, we are implementing them. On the day of Raksha Bandhan, we provided an irresistible gift to women, sisters, and daughters,” he said.

Gandhi said: “The Karnataka model has transformed the political landscape of the entire country. All these guarantee schemes are not our Congress government’s, but they are your schemes, these are schemes made for you.”

“Today, by pressing the button, ₹2,000 has been deposited into the accounts of mothers and daughters. This is not just for this month; it will continue as long as our government is in power,” he added.

Stating that women are the foundation of this country, he said: “Leaving aside one scheme, the remaining four guarantee schemes are designed to empower women.”

“A strong foundation is needed even for a big tree to have strong roots and withstand any storm that comes its way. Women are the foundation of this country.”

“That’s why we are financially empowering them so that they can face any challenge that comes their way. They are the foundation stone of this nation, which is why we are empowering them economically,” he said.

He continued: “Gas cylinders and essential food items have seen a continuous increase in prices over the past several months and are making a direct impact on people.

“While I was undertaking the Bharat Jodo Yatra, I got the opportunity to speak to thousands of women. Many of them told me that due to rising prices, they are struggling, and asked for some form of assistance.”

“It struck me then that the women of Karnataka are our strong foundation. Our women played a key role in bringing Congress party back to power,” Gandhi said.