COVID-19 Forced Modi Govt to Fall Back on MGNREGA: Sonia Gandhi
Gandhi said despite the attempts to deride MGNREGA , the Modi government had to turn to the INC scheme
Since coming to power, the Modi government has been at odds with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), but the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the Modi government a full circle, says Sonia Gandhi, adding that it “obliged them to fall back” on the UPA’s flagship rural relief programme.
In a column for The Indian Express, Indian National Congress President Sonia Gandhi penned down a strong argument in favour of the MGNREGA. She argued that the simple idea behind the scheme – to give the people the legal right to demand work and guaranteeing them 100 days of work with minimum wages – was radical and rational.
It was radical because it transferred power to the poorest of the poor and rational because it puts money directly in the hands of those who need it most, she said.
She accused the Modi government of attempting to deride the flagship programme despite its effectiveness.
“On assuming office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi realised that shutting down the scheme was not practical. Instead, he sought to deride it, attacking the Congress party in a caustic speech in which he called it ‘a living monument of your failure’”.
She pointed out that in May 2020 alone, 2.19 crore households demanded work through the scheme, the highest for the month in eight years.
“Faced with unprecedented hardship and an economy already in slowdown, the government was obliged to fall back on the UPA’s flagship rural relief programme. Deeds are more important than words, and nothing speaks more eloquently than the finance minister’s recent and belated increase in the overall allocation of the programme to more than Rs 1 lakh crore,” Gandhi said.
Talking of measures the Centre must take to tackle the pandemic, the Gandhi said job cards should be issued under the scheme.
"The panchayats, empowered by Rajiv Gandhi's path-breaking initiatives, must be brought centre-stage as the MGNREGA is not a centralised programme. The capacity of panchayats to manage public works projects must be strengthened and devolution of funds to panchayats must be prioritised," she wrote.
Finally, she urged the government to use the scheme to benefit people instead of “playing politics” over it.
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