New Delhi, Jun 8 : Hours after Congress president Sonia Gandhi ‘urged’ the Union government to effectively use the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) ‘to help the people in their time of need’, the grand-old-party, on Monday, questioned the Narendra Modi government over its implementation and demanded the scheme must be scaled up to meet the massively increased demand.
“Covid-19 has demonstrated the unmatched value of a people-centric scheme like MGNREGA with a humbled Modi Government being constrained to commit an additional Rs. 40,000 crore”, said senior party leader and spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi. Referring to the Prime Minister’s past remark on MGNREGA that ‘a living monument of the INC’s failure’, Mr Singhvi made a pot shot on the former, saying “Prime Minister’s words have come back to haunt him. Covid-19 marks PM Modi ki ‘vifalta ka jeeta jagta samarak’.”
Earlier in the day, in a column for Indian Express newspaper, Ms Gandhi had said “the Modi government has grudgingly come around to the significance of the programme. My plea to the government is, this is a time of national crisis, not a time to play politics. This is not a BJP versus Congress issue. You have a powerful mechanism at hand, please use it to help the people of India in their time of need”.
Echoing the party president, Mr Sighvi said the unfortunate Covid-19 crisis has forced the Modi Government to concede that the MGNREGA is the most effective and far-reaching tool to tackle the economic challenges being thrown up.
The Congress leader, however, questioned the government’s steps to implement the scheme and raised several questions like, “how many additional job cards, to accommodate an increase in the new migrant and existing rural job seekers, have already been issued and how many persons have been given employment?” “The Chief Labour Commissioner’s office had issued a circular on April 8, 2020 to its 20 regional offices asking for collection of data on figures vis-à-vis returning migrants. This information must be made available to the public”, he demanded.
He further asked what are the respective amounts that have been released to the states to cope with additional demand and added, “given that the MGNREGA Act provides for special benefits for women what special provisions have been made for women both at workplace and regarding type of work?”. The Congress leader also asked the government that did they clear all arrears from the past financial year. (UNI)