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Congress Raises ‘Nyay’ Promise from Rs 72,000 to Rs 1,00,000

On Wednesday, the Congress unveiled five of its electoral promises, or ‘guarantees’ for women, including a Rs 100,000 annual cash benefit transfer to one woman from each of the country’s poorest households and a 50% quota in all new central government job recruitments.

The Congress has named the cash transfer scheme for women ‘Mahalakshmi’. Sources in the party said a socio-economic caste census (SECC) would identify the poorest families in the country, and the money would go to the oldest women in these families.

In a post on X, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said the party’s “Nari Nyay” guarantee will set a new agenda for the country’s women. The Congress said it would ensure that 50 percent of all new recruitments for central government jobs would be reserved for women.

According to the All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE) data, 54 percent of all graduates are women annually,” a Congress leader associated with the party’s manifesto drafting exercise said. Last week, the Congress committed to filling all three million vacancies in central government jobs.

The reservation for women would primarily apply to new jobs. Still, exceptions could be made, for example, to fill vacancies in central armed police forces (CAPF) and Indian Police Service, the Congress leader said. “We believe women’s reservation in CAPF and IPS would help ensure women’s safety and also put pressure on state governments to allocate a similar quota for women in state police forces,” the Congress leader, who didn’t want to be identified, said.

In its 2019 Lok Sabha poll manifesto, the Congress had promised the “minimum income support programme”, or Nyuntam Aay Yojana, or Nyay. According to its 2019 poll manifesto, the target population for the Nyay scheme was 50 million families, constituting the poorest 20 percent of all families. Each family was guaranteed a cash transfer of Rs 72,000 a year.

The manifesto said, “As far as possible, the money will be transferred to the account of a woman of the family who has a bank account, or who will be urged to open a bank account.” It said that the estimated cost of the scheme would be less than two per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), which will progressively decline as families move out of poverty.

Its other three guarantees for women include doubling the Centre’s contribution to the monthly pay of ASHA, anganwadi and mid-day meal workers and appointing a woman in every panchayat to serve as a para-legal functionary to educate women about their legal rights and assist them in their enforcement. The party promised “Savitri Bai Phule Hostels” guarantee, under which the Congress-led Centre will double the number of hostels for working women in the country, with at least one in each district.

Several state governments, including the Congress’ in Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh, the Aam Aadmi Party’s in Delhi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) governments in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh have either rolled out or announced cash benefit transfers for women. The cash transfers range from Rs 800 to Rs 2000. The Congress poll promise would increase the cash benefit to nearly Rs 8,300 monthly assistance.

Kharge said the Congress has delivered on its ‘guarantees’ to the people of Karnataka. He said women have taken 17 million bus trips ever since the scheme allowing free bus travel to women in state government buses was launched. Under the Gruha Lakshmi scheme, the state government deposits Rs 2000 monthly into the bank accounts of 12.2 million women, he said.

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(Source: Business Standard)

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