Weeks before polls, candidates take fancy to MGNREGA workers

Workers who usually earn ₹300 a day for their labour are now offered ₹600, three free meals and liquor every day, if they joined the candidates in their election campaign, carry their party flags and shout slogans

April 25, 2024 08:10 am | Updated 09:04 am IST - Anakapalli

Women of Chilakakagedda village levelling the land, under MGNREGA, at Chilakakagedda village of Anantagiri mandal in ASR district.

Women of Chilakakagedda village levelling the land, under MGNREGA, at Chilakakagedda village of Anantagiri mandal in ASR district. | Photo Credit: V RAJU

The long road to timely MGNREGA payments

The workers who earn around ₹300 per day by doing the MGNREGA work are now offered between ₹500 and ₹600 per day by the candidates to campaign for the. The candidates are also offering them three meals a day and liquor, they say.

The workers are asked to double as party workers and carry election materials, wave the party flags at rallies and participate in the roadshows.

“Yes, these workers are engaged in campaign works in our district by some political parties,” said P.  Govind, a senior CPI (M) leader.

K.A. Naidu (name changed), an MGNREGA job card holder who accepted the deal of a political party in the Anakapalli Lok Sabha segment, said, “I now have the liberty to choose. My wife attends the MGNREGA works, while I tag along with the political leaders in their campaign for as long as it goes on.”

Officials of the Rural Development Department told The Hindu that there are 1.46 lakh job card holders in the Anakapalli district. The government has changed their working hours until the end of May to avoid sunstroke. Each worker is paid ₹300 per day. Each family of two members can be given two job cards for 100 days of guaranteed work in a year. But suddenly, we are seeing a drop in the workforce, he added.

A YSRCP leader asserts that manpower is needed during the election campaign. “We are not forcing them to join us. We are hiring only those who show interest and there may be some MGNREGA workers among them,” he said.

“With temperatures rising above 40° Celsius, people prefer to stay indoors. So, we need foot soldiers and have hired daily wagers from villages,” said a TDP-BJP-JSP alliance party leader.

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