Rise in demand for MGNREGS a ‘living monument’ of govt. failure, says Jairam Ramesh

Congress general secretary says that data points to ‘widespread unemployment and stagnant wages’ that runs counter to the development narrative being talked about by the Modi government

April 01, 2024 10:05 pm | Updated April 02, 2024 05:12 am IST - NEW DELHI

MGNREGA workers at Purulia West Bengal. Photo used for representation purpose only.

MGNREGA workers at Purulia West Bengal. Photo used for representation purpose only. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Reacting to the latest statistics of the flagship rural employment guarantee scheme showing that demand for work is more than the pre-pandemic level and on a steady rise, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said it is a “living monument” to the Narendra Modi government’s many failures.

As per the statistics, a total of 305.2 person days (one person working a normal shift) were generated in financial year 2023-24, which is 12 crore more person days than in 2022-23 and 40 crore more than the first pandemic year in 2019-20. In many ways, 2022-23 is seen as the first year after the country came out of the pandemic shock and it took time for the economy to pick up.

In a detailed statement here, Mr. Ramesh pointed out that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) was designed by the Congress government as a safety net for the rural poor. “It is demand-driven which means that employment is generated only when there is no alternative paying better wages,” Mr. Ramesh said.

The Congress general secretary said that data points to “ widespread unemployment and stagnant wages.” He accused the government of turning a blind eye, since the data runs counter to the “ development” narrative propagated by the government. “A government that refuses to listen to today’s grim reality will be unsuccessful in combating it,” Mr. Ramesh added.

Copying the Prime Minister’s own words that he used in 2015 to describe the programme, the Congress leader said the increase in MGNREGA person-days last year is in fact a “living monument” to the Modi government’s many failures.

The Congress leader said that despite the Modi government’s dismissive attitude towards the programme, it had to rely on the scheme as a primary source of income support for the poor during the pandemic and unfortunately even in the present.

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