Party also announces roll out of NYAY payouts for BPL families ahead of Assembly polls
Shrugging off the loss of two MLAs to the ruling BJP, the Congress party in Assam has outlined a slew of policies, included a “one family, one job” scheme and free electricity up to 120 units, ahead of Assembly elections due early this year.
State Congress president Ripun Bora on Friday admitted that the party had received a temporary setback after Golaghat (eastern Assam) MLA Ajanta Neog and Lakhipur (southern Assam) MLA Rajdeep Goala joined the BJP in December 2020.
While Ms Neog, a former minister, defied the “BJP wave” to retain her seat for the Congress in 2016, Mr Goala belongs to the “tea tribes”, considered a “vote-swinging” community in at least 40 Assembly constituencies.
“We have identified parallel leaders in the constituencies vacated by our MLAs and are focussing on empowering dedicated party workers. Accordingly, we have undertaken booth-level meetings in each Assembly constituency to strengthen the party from the grassroots,” Mr. Bora told journalists at the State Congress headquarters in Guwahati.
The party, he said, has been concentrating on feasible beneficiary policies that could help it return to power after the State polls.
“We have decided to provide a job per family if we form the government, implement Rahul Gandhi’s idea of NYAY (minimum income scheme) by providing every BPL family ₹7,500 per month and making electricity free up to 120 units,” Mr Bora said.
“We will also waive the loans of farmers, specifically the loans taken by women from microfinance institutions,” he added.
Microfinance institutions in Assam charge a high rate of interest — up to 24% per annum — and allegedly force poor borrowers to pledge or pawn their assets as security. Recovery of dues through coercive action has reportedly made a few farmers end their lives over the years.
The Assam Assembly on December 30 passed the Assam Micro Finance Institutions (Regulation of Money Lending) Bill, 2020, which aims to “protect and relieve the economically vulnerable groups and individuals from the undue hardship of usurious interest rates and coercive means of recovery” by microfinance companies.
Presenting the Bill, Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that agents deployed by microfinance companies exploit women. “They are taking undue advantage of these women,” he said.