By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, June 16 (IANS) With the raging Covid-19 pandemic playing havoc with the poor all over the country, the Maharashtra Congress apparently wants the ‘NYAY’ scheme to be implemented in the state, according to party sources.
Since a few days, signs and sounds of discontent are emerging from the state Congress, including party chief Balasaheb Thorat and former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan – both senior ministers in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government headed by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
While the rumblings in the MVA sounded sweet music to the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, the lead partner Shiv Sena rubbished all speculation that the government was hurtling towards doom.
Congress sources, while admitting that some statements may have emitted wrong political signals, claim there is no cause for worry for the stability or longevity of the government.
“We are keen that Thackerayji gives us a hearing as it concerns the poorest of people in the state, who are hit badly by the pandemic. We only want that the government should consider implementing a scheme like ‘Nyuntam Aay Yojana’ (Nyay),” a senior Congress leader, requesting anonymity told IANS.
The scheme – the brainchild of senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi – was floated with much fanfare before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Among other things, ‘Nyay’ assured a minimum Rs 6,000 a month cash income guarantee to the bottom 20 per cent of the Indian population, estimated to be around 25 crore.
A modified version of ‘Nyay’ for farmers – named as Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana (RGKNY) – was implemented by Congress’ Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel in May, and has reportedly granted around 20 lakh peasants with direct bank transfers totaling to Rs 1,500 crore.
In Maharashtra, the scheme could benefit both – the poor and the distressed farmers – to emancipate from the huge economic problems arising due to the pandemic and the crushing 3-month-long lockdown, the Congress leader pointed out.
In this context, he referred to the ‘Shiv Bhojan Thali’ for Rs 5, which proved a lifesaver for millions during lockdown, and how ‘Nyay’ can be a boon to over 2.50 crore poor people in Maharashtra.
Admitting that it (‘Nyay’) was not listed in the MVA’s Common Minimum Programme (CMP) finalised in November 2019, the leader said “we are hopeful – the cause of the poor is dear to the CM and NCP President Sharad Pawar, it would give all three parties a political edge in the state”.
Apparently peeved, the Shiv Sena’s official newspapers ‘Saamana’ and ‘Dopahar Ka Saamana’ virtually slammed the Congress, terming it as a ‘creaking cot’ and in the same breath added that those sitting on it like Thorat and Chavan also know when and how much to rock it.
“It’s an old cot, so it will creak. It (Congress) is an old, historical legacy, with many on it who can change sides, but the CM should get used to it. Even brothers quarrel in a household, this is a three-party alliance with varied ideologies,” the papers said in an editorial.
On theories of the Congress coveting a larger share in the Governor-nominated 12 seats, the Sena indicated its mood by saying it would be in sync with the assembly strengths of the MVA partners – Congress has 44 MLAs, NCP 54, Shiv Sena’s 56 plus 8 others from supporting parties.
Dropping hints, the edit said that the Congress – with experienced leaders like Thorat and Chavan – is doing well in the government, but they must also remember that even Pawar and his party have a similar rich experience in governance.
Taking a quick jibe at BJP, it said the MVA comprises politically mature persons, “so let nobody harbour notions that the doors of Raj Bhavan will once again be opened for them early in the morning”.
As far as Thackeray was concerned, it pointed out to his sacrifices during the government-formation talks and reiterated that the CM is not ‘power hungry’ to resort to anything just to safeguard his position.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: [email protected])