“UPA declined to grant them status of government employees”

CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and leader of the Janwadi Mahila Sanghatane Brinda Karat on Saturday criticised the Congress and the BJP for ignoring the condition of anganwadi workers, who implement all the welfare programmes of the government at the grass roots.

Addressing the 5th State-level convention of anganwadi workers here, Ms. Karat said though the Committee on Empowerment of Women comprising members of Parliament recommended that the workers be accorded the status of government employees, the UPA government rejected the proposal.

Describing the Congress and the BJP as two sides of a “fake coin,” Ms. Karat said both parties pursued the same policy of ‘appeasing the rich, the mining barons and the land mafia’ and had no concern for the working class people. “While more than Rs. 5 lakh crore has been given away by way of tax concessions, etc. to the rich and the wealthy in last year’s budget, the government says it has no money to increase the emoluments of the anganwadi workers from Rs. 3,500 to Rs. 10,000, provide pensionary benefits and bonus as recommended by the Empowerment Committee,” said Ms. Karat. While the Congress rejected the proposal, even the main Opposition remained silent on the issue, she added.

The anganwadi women were employed in 36 categories of services, including implementation of the Integrated Child Development Scheme which was critical in the battle against malnutrition. “The struggle to strengthen and economically empower the anganwadi workers is linked to the struggle against malnutrition and poverty,” she said. .

The malnutrition level in rural Karnataka was as high as 61 per cent, said Ms. Karat, but the BJP government had not strengthened the hands of the anganwadi workers. “The struggle of the anganwadi workers is also linked to fighting the wrong policies of the Congress-led UPA at the Centre and the BJP in the State which are fuelling price rise, inflation and poverty,” she added.

K. Hemalatha, general secretary, All India Anganwadi Workers Association, flayed the State government for outsourcing some of the functions of the anganwadi centres by tying up with corporate houses and companies. “This would put a question mark on the very existence of the anganwadi centres,” she added.

The three-day conference is being attended by 430 delegates from across the State, apart from national leaders.

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