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India’s opposition Congress unveils assistance for poorest families in election gambit

Congress President Rahul Gandhi, facing a tough opponent in Prime Minister Narendra Modi in general elections set for April and May, told reporters the programme would benefit 250 million of a population of 1.3 billion.

“It’s an extremely powerful, extremely dynamic, extremely well-thought-through idea,” Gandhi said, calling the programme a fiscally prudent scheme to be rolled out in phases.

“We’ve done all the calculations, we’ve asked the best economists. They all backed us on this idea. We are going to implement it.”

A Congress official said any family earning less than 12,000 ($174) rupees a month would receive 6,000 ($ 87) rupees every month.

Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dismissed the plan as an enticement on which Congress cannot deliver.

The number of Indians below the poverty line had fallen to about 65 million, or 5 percent of the population, from 22 percent in 2011, the BJP said on social network Twitter after Gandhi’s news conference.

(Production: Ella Wilks-Harper)

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