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India’s Congress promises 72,000 rupees to poor if voted back

NEW DELHI: India’s main opposition Congress party will give 72,000 rupees ($1,045) a year to the country’s poorest families if it is voted back to power, its president said on Monday.

Describing it as a “final assault on poverty”, Congress President Rahul Gandhi told reporters in New Delhi that the scheme would benefit 250 million people.

Gandhi’s announcement comes ahead of India’s general election beginning April 11.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a surprise majority in 2014. Until last year, many predicted a similar result.

But amid rising anger over unemployment and a fall in rural incomes, the BJP lost key state elections in December, making this contest more closely fought than first expected.

Rahul Gandhi has been attacking Modi over his economic record, accusing him of failing on his election promise in 2014 to create employment for India’s millions of job seekers.

Critics say Modi’s flagship policies — including new taxes and the cancellation of huge numbers of banknotes — have not produced promised jobs, while India’s farmers are up in arms over massive debt burdens.

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