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Nobel winner Abhijit Banerjee had a key role in Congress Nyay during LS polls

In his congratulatory message on Monday, Gandhi acknowledged Banerjee’s contribution to Nyay.

ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Oct 14, 2019, 11.29 PM IST|Original: Oct 14, 2019, 11.29 PM IST
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New Delhi: Abhijit Banerjee, who shared the Nobel prize for economics on Monday, played a role in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls by contributing to the Congress idea of the Nyuntam Aay Yojana (Nyay), which the opposition had made a prominent election plank.

Then Congress president Rahul Gandhi had described Nyay — which promised to provide the poorest Indians `72,000 annually or a flat uniform amount of Rs 6,000 monthly — as a step with which “we will wipe out poverty from the country.” In his congratulatory message on Monday, Gandhi acknowledged Banerjee’s contribution to Nyay.

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“Congratulations to #Abhijit-Banerjee on winning the Nobel Prize in Economics. Abhijit helped conceptualise Nyay that had the power to destroy poverty and boost the Indian economy. Instead we now have Modinomics, that’s destroying the economy and boosting poverty,” Gandhi tweeted. Congress president Sonia Gandhi too congratulated Banerjee in a statement.

Congress sources said Gandhi and some of his colleagues held discussions with Banerjee in Delhi and abroad, specifically on Nyay and broadly on the Congress vision unveiled in the party’s election manifesto.

There were reports that Banerjee wanted Nyay to initially start with Rs 3,000 per month. “Yes, the Congress leadership, especially Rahul Gandhi, held discussions with Abhijit Banerjee on the idea of Nyay,” Congress data team head Praveen Chakravarty, who was also part of the consultations, told ET on Monday.

Rajeev Gowda, who was the convener of the Chidambaram-led Congress manifesto committee, said: “Yes, Abhijit Banerjee had made very useful contributions in conceptualising the Congress idea of Nyay. It is a publicly acknowledged fact.” Congress circles also said Banerjee was also part of a delegation of eminent economists who held discussions with Gandhi sometime in 2017 about the state of the economy.

In an interview with IndiaSpend in May, Banerjee spoke about Nyay. “The right way to think about Nyay is that it is the opening step in creating an infrastructure for making money transfers possible rather than an entitlement for a particular good. It is better to give people cash than a fertiliser subsidy or free power.

However, the first step has to be to convince people that the subsidy delivery mechanism works. This is what Nyay can do. So the major subsidy schemes cannot be removed before Nyay is well-established and in the short-run, there will definitely be some fiscal pressure,” Banerjee had said in the interview.

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