Former finance minister P Chidambaram has hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for mocking the UPA government’s flagship job guarantee scheme MGNREGA as a living testimony to the Congress’s failure in governing the country, saying if that was so why was the scheme being implemented in Gujarat, the Prime Minister’s home state.
He also did not attach much importance to the increase in fund allocation to MGNREGA and Finance Minister’s promise to enhance allocations by Rs 5,000 crore. “Rs 34,000 crore is not the highest allocation. They are saying that if there is growth and if there is more revenue, we will allocate an additional Rs 5,000 crore which will make it the highest allocation. This is an if. Lets wait and see whether they are allocating an additional 5,000 crore,” he said Saturday.
Chidambaram said the Prime Minister’s comment was “extremely unfortunate” and amounted to insulting the poor. “MGNREGA is a programme intended to alleviate poverty among the extremely poor… It is for the poorest of the poor. It is a safety net… A safety net which even the people of Gujarat want,” he said.
“There is poverty in Gujarat . A large number of people in Gujarat take to MGNREGA. That is why somebody asked the question if this is a monument of Congress’s failure, then why is it being implemented in Gujarat. Because everybody in Gujarat is so well off that they don’t need MGNREGA. It is a very unkind remark which the poor will take it as a snub, a slight,” he said.
Regarding the announcement of initiative to recover black money, Chidambaram said the NDA government has not been able to “obtain any new names” of account holders. He said in his interim budget in February 2014, he had mentioned about the UPA government having obtained 67 names. In all those cases, the Income-Tax department issued notices and 17 cases have been prosecuted.
“Since then every single name now with the government was a name obtained during the UPA government. No new name has been obtained. Not one new name has been obtained. The list that we obtained is the only list with the NDA government,” he said.
Chidambaram also described as “sad” the decision of the Finance Minister to dump the Direct Tax Code. “It is a sad decision. The original DTC should be brought back. The original DTC was a good document,” he said. He said while the Government has decided to take the GST forward, it should be recalled that the opposition to it during the UPA time came from BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.