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Wayanad, Feb 22: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday said Narendra Modi, who “ridiculed” MGNREGA when he took over as Prime Minister in 2014, was “forced to accept” the fact that the ambitious rural job scheme brought in by the previous UPA government played the role of “saviour” of people of the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Inaugurating a Kudumbasree Sangamam at Poothadi Grama Panchayat in his constituency here, the Congress leader said the Congress works for the empowerment of the poor and alleged that the idea of the ruling BJP was to empower the most powerful.
“When Modi became Prime Minister, in the Parliament House, in front of all of us, he ridiculed MGNREGA. He said MGNREGA was an insult to the Indian people,” Gandhi alleged, as he began his two-day visit to his constituency in poll- bound Kerala.
He said the Prime Minister was forced to increase the work and money of the scheme during the spread of coronavirus in the country. “And he was forced to accept during COVID-19 that only MGNREGA played the role of saviour of our people,” Gandhi said.
He noted that the demand for MGNREGA, which provides social protection for the most vulnerable people living in rural India by guaranteeing wage employment opportunities, “skyrocketed” during COVID.
The Wayanad MP said both SHGs and the MGNREGA were brought in by the UPA government not as a “gift” but as “tools for empowerment for making our people stronger.”
He said when the MGNREGA was brought in to provide at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work, lots of people questioned it asking why we are spoiling our people by giving charity.
Many claimed MGNREGA scheme was going to ruin the people but the same people are not saying anything while the government is “giving lakhs of crores of rupees to the big business” and “privatising huge public sector companies,” Gandhi alleged. He also said implementation of the MGNREGA scheme was the major reason for the “tremendous economic growth” during the UPA period.
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