The NDA’s false claim to paternity, writes Abhishek Manu Singhvi – analysis
In addition to its various achievements as the world’s largest social welfare program, Mahatma Gandhi’s National Rural Employment Guarantee System (MGNREGS) has the unique achievement, which has been highlighted in the wake of coronavirus disease (Covid-19 ), of gaining putative new fathers and mothers, new claims of ownership and inventor, and the twin triumphs of wisdom in hindsight and selective amnesia.
The ministers and eminent officials of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are living the mockery of Prime Minister (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi of “monumental failure” against his current jewel in the crown, the MGNREGS, for the semantic haircut he wanted say improve and enlarge it. Still others are characterizing the current MGNREGS debate as a desperate attempt by Sonia Gandhi to claim a fake property. They forget that the same mockery of the “monumental failure” was repeatedly repeated by the ruling powers of today, and the members and the president of the former National Advisory Council (NAC), which conceptualized MGNREGS, were called “jholawallahsWhy shouldn’t those who are mockingly classified by the current political masters as “urban Naxals”, “left-wing socialists / communists”, the “Khan market gang” or “Lutyens’ elite” take credit? for something that neither the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) nor the BJP, nor even Congress thought for six decades, is beyond comprehension.Some critics of the government tend to use words that suggest that Congress and the NAC claim they are similar to admitting a crime.
The scale of MGNREGS is enormous. As of March 31, this legally guaranteed on-demand job provision (a uniquely innovative concept in itself) for anyone in designated rural areas has, from the start, touched the lives of 120 million people, has provided 1.2 billion million days of work per person, He paid wages amounting to billions of rupees, spread over 1.46 million miscellaneous items of rural labor, of which 60% are complete, in operation. It is not surprising, because for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and NAC, programs such as the Right to Information, the half-day meal plan, the National Rural Health Mission, the Food Safety Law, among others, were articles of faith, not opportunistic stratagems.
Equally entertaining is the government’s gray eminence’s reference to claims to ownership of platforms like Jan Dhan Yojana as the reason for MGNREGS ‘success. They omit the affectionate terms of affection that their own leaders used for the Aadhaar seminal scheme, which has been operational since 2009. Despite the fact that Aadhaar is the heart and soul of Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT), the BJP legislator Meenakshi Lekhi called it a “fraud” Program in 2012, adding: “This is a dangerous program to regularize the illegal stay of migrants in the country. Is Bharat Mata so open to illegal immigrants? The late Ananth Kumar argued: “If you enter other countries illegally, you are shot or jailed. But if someone enters India illegally, they are granted citizenship. This is Aadhaar’s contribution … Aadhaar is the biggest fraud in the country.” Such opportunistic political mistakes, whether how MGNREGS or Aadhaar or the goods and services tax will continue to haunt their authors, despite the fragility of institutional memory.
Aside from individual opportunism, institutional memory cannot erase the admitted fact that DBT started in January 2013 and was formally announced in the 2013 budget. The fact checkers who smashed DBT authorship claims from the BJP were ignored, and in 2017 PM stated: “We started the direct benefits transfer scheme. This resulted in money reaching its rightful owner. We successfully eliminated intermediaries.”
The government has rightly allocated an additional crore of Rs 40,000 as Covid-19 fiscal stimulus to MGNREGS. In fact, this is one of its main fiscal components, Covid-19, while 90% of the rest is misleading monetary policy, supply-side announcements, awkwardly camouflaged as a fiscal stimulus. The UPA government continued to increase allocations to MGNREGS each year from its inception. In fiscal year 2009-10, Rs 16,000 crore was allocated to the scheme. The following year, it increased by 150% to Rs 39,100 crore. The apologists for this government who are misleading the national discourse should point to a single year of such a significant increase by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the past six years. Modi 1.0 and 2.0 appear to have averaged a 12.8% annual increase in MGNREGS allocation, which is much less than the lowest increase in UPA 1 and 2.
American author Maxine Kingston aptly said, “In times of destruction, create something.” The original parents of these beneficial social welfare plans have no problem if their success spawns new parents and new property. But during the “destruction” caused by the virus, why does this government maintain a strategic silence regarding the increase of MGNREGS “from 100 days to 200? Why at least we are not trying to approach the universal payment of minimum wages under MGNREGS ? Why is the government not releasing its quotas of Rs 16,000 crore, reducing its actual claimed package of MGNREGS from one lakh crore rupees to Rs 84,000 crore? Why are the ministers hiding the fact that, Instead of 100 days, the basic reality suggests meeting just 75 days in many cases, even 50 in some? Why can’t the government extend the limits of this successful scheme to six months or at the end of the pandemic? Why this fear of the fiscal deficit and / or the terror of the rating downgrades by the rating agencies paralyzed this government, which does not seem to be aware of basic concepts such as monetizing the debt to finance generosame Schemes of lifelines like MGNREGS?
It is only when it achieves, even partially, the imperatively urgent reforms prior to MGNREGS that the nation will at least consider recognizing it as adoptive, not biological, parents of the scheme.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi is a third term Member of Parliament; former president of the permanent parliamentary commission; former additional attorney general, chief national spokesperson, Congress, and jurist.
The opinions expressed are personal.