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"Tell all job scheme is Congress brainchild"



Special Correspondent

Propagate this message among people, Manmohan and Sonia urge partymen

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday said party workers should propagate the message that the "historic and revolutionary" National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) was the brainchild of the party.

At a day-long convention here of the Congress committees of 200 districts, where the job programme is being implemented, Dr. Singh said: "I request that you should carry the message across to people that this right [to employment] has been given to them by Soniaji. This right has been given to them by the Congress party... If you assist in implementing this law in a proper manner, you will be able to lay a strong foundation for creation of goodwill for our party and our beloved leader, Ms. Sonia Gandhi."

The party should form monitoring committees in each district to keep a watch on implementation. The workers must get eligible families registered with the panchayat or programme officer and secure them the job card. It was the right of the people in an area to determine which public works needed to be undertaken.

Dr. Singh said the scheme had the potential to change the face of rural India and its success would have a bearing on the Bharat Nirman programme of the United Progressive Alliance Government.

"No discrimination"

Earlier, in her inaugural address, Ms. Gandhi said that unlike the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance Government, the UPA Government did not believe in discrimination on the issue of people's welfare. Sixty per cent of the 200 districts were located in States where the Congress was not in power.

She said the Congress was aware that the Governments of other parties were trying to get political mileage out of the scheme. The scheme was part of the party's manifesto and was included in the common minimum programme. "I have said it before and I am repeating it, that any government policy or programme can be completely successful only when the party is a partner. And in places where the Congress does not have a Government, we have to keep a watch and if the work is not going well, we have to agitate and create awareness among the people... "

As for the States where the Congress was in power, it was the duty of the Chief Minister to involve the party and its workers.

She suggested that Union Ministers keep in touch with the party.

Areas of concern

Union Minister Jairam Ramesh gave a power-point presentation with details on the progress of the NREGA. He said the areas of concern were issue of job cards, demand for employment, execution of works, and IT interface. At the end of it, there were suggestions that a Central monitoring mechanism be evolved, as the Centre gave a major portion of the funds. This demand came in the wake of complaints that in the States where the party was not in power, the Governments were projecting the scheme as their own.

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