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Ayushman Bharat a handout to 15-20 rich businessmen, says Rahul Gandhi

FE Online

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday targetted the Modi government s flagship Ayushman Bharat scheme, terming it limited in its ambit of healthcare issues and a handout to a few rich businessmen of the country. The Congress party, Rahul said, would not run a scheme like the current one.

While speaking to medical professionals in Raipur in Chhattisgarh at a programme organised by an NGO, Gandhi said, Ayushman Bharat Scheme is a limited scheme that’s targeting a very limited number of healthcare issues. It’s a handout to 15-20 richest businessmen in India. That s not the type of scheme we’re going to run.”

Ayushman Bharat was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 23 last year in Ranchi. The ambitious scheme aims to provide health protection to 10.74 crore poor, deprived rural families and identified occupational categories of urban workers families as per the latest Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data (nearly 50 crore beneficiaries). It offers a benefit cover of Rs. 500,000 per family annually.

Meanwhile, Gandhi also said that his party was looking at including the promise of Healthcare Act in its manifesto for the April-May Lok Sabha polls. He said it was part of the Congress’ commitment to ensuring everybody has to access to quality healthcare.

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The Congress chief said his party wanted to increase health expenditure to 3 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and also increase the number of trained medical professionals.

With Lok Sabha elections less than a month away, Rahul Gandhi has launched an all-out attack against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s policies. He has criticised the Modi government’s flagship Swachh Bharat Abhiyan at several public events.

On Friday, in another attack on PM Modi, Gandhi accused PM Modi of “trying to stop the truth” about his “criminal failure” on employment from becoming public after over 100 economists and social scientists expressed concerns over “political interference” in statistical data in the country.

Gandhi’s attack came a day after 108 economists and social scientists on Thursday called for the restoration of “institutional independence” and integrity of statistical organisations.