Giriraj challenges Rahul to a debate on MGNREGA, dismisses his ‘wild allegations’


New Delhi: Dismissing Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s charges related to MGNREGA, Union minister Giriraj Singh said on Saturday that both allocations for the scheme and asset creations under it during the Narendra Modi government were more than the previous UPA dispensation.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of Saras Mela in Noida, Singh took strong exception to Gandhi’s Facebook post alleging a reduction in MGNREGA budget and said the Congress leader should get his facts and figures right before making such “wild allegations”.

He also challenged Gandhi to a debate on the rural job scheme.

The Union rural development minister said that in the 10 years of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, the budget estimate (BE) for MGNREGA never exceeded Rs 33,000 crore and in most of the fiscals, part of the allocated funds got surrendered due to poor implementation of the scheme.

Whereas, under the Narendra Modi government, the revised estimate (RE) for the scheme exceeded the budget estimate every year, he said.

This year also the BE of Rs 73,000 crore has already touched the figure of Rs 89,400 crore in RE as the Rural Development Ministry received Rs 16,000 crore out of Rs 25,000 crore demanded due to accumulation of state dues.

According to a statement from the ministry, in 2019-20 the BE was Rs 60,000 crore and the RE went up to Rs 71,000 crore. In 2020-21 the BE of Rs 61,500 crore went up to a whopping Rs 1,11,500 crore due to the reverse migration of rural population amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased demand for work.

Similarly, in the financial year 2021-2022, the BE of Rs 73,000 crore touched Rs 99,117 crore in RE.

Singh also challenged Gandhi to check the asset creation under the rural job scheme during the UPA rule which, he said, was merely 17 per cent. Whereas, in the last nine years, the asset creation has already crossed 60 per cent.

He gave full credit to the prime minister for reorienting MGNREGA and its mandate from merely digging and filling holes.

On Friday, Congress leader Gandhi slammed the BJP-led government for reducing the MGNREGA budget and alleged that the scheme, which was the foundation of India’s rural economy, was becoming a victim of the Centre’s repressive policies.

He also accused the government of misusing Aadhaar against the poor sections of the society by linking it to the scheme under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

“MGNREGA is the foundation of India’s rural economy. A revolutionary policy that has supported countless families. The MGNREGA scheme, which is running the homes of crores of families, is becoming a victim of the repressive policies of the Centre,” Gandhi said in a Facebook post in Hindi while citing a news report.

Singh said the aim behind linking Aadhaar to MGNREGA is to bring full transparency in the implementation of the scheme.

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( With inputs from )

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