May 30, 2013 6:04:57 pm
Social activist Aruna Roy,who has decided to dissociate herself from Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council,today hit out at government saying it was focussing on economic reforms and growth at the cost of poor people.
Roy,who has attacked the Prime Minister for rejecting a proposal of NAC to raise minimum wages under MGNREGA,said pro-poor issues have been pushed to the back burner by the UPA-II government.
She listed pendency of key legislations like Food Security Bill and Land Acquisition Bill and “efforts to tamper” with the Right to Information Act to target the government.
Roy,whose term in the NAC comes to an end tomorrow,has requested Gandhi that she should not be considered for another term.
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“There is an ideological bias that the government has taken. It has become completely pro-market and it has become pro-reforms and pro-growth… So fundamentally,we need to question whether this government or any other government can actually push a growth agenda at the cost of poor people,” Roy told PTI.
Her comments assume significance in the light of her letter to Gandhi in which she has attacked the Prime Minister,saying it was “extremely unfortunate” that he had rejected the NAC’s recommendations on payment of minimum wages to MGNREGA workers and “chose instead to appeal the Karnataka High Court judgement ordering the payment of minimum wages to MGNREGA workers.”
Over a year back,NAC had recommended raising of wages under MGNREGA from Rs 100 but the PMO had said it could not be done as it would require amendment to MGNREGA Act. It had then,however,linked the wages to inflation index.
Roy,who had been vocal in raising issues against the government even in the NAC,said she would now fight for pro-people issues from outside.
Roy said now the minimum wages issue has not got any kind of priority in the government’s perspective.
“I think it’s the reform agenda,it’s the growth agenda which has got the government’s attention. Minimum wages may be seen as negative because the industries and the big farmers are annoyed with MGNREGA as it has raised the wage structure and given the workers a bargaining power.
“If the government sees it in negative,then it is definitely anti-poor,” she said.
Attacking ruling as well as opposition parties for non-passage of Food Security Bill,she said the proposed law was “whittled down” by the government.
“As the Bill is in Parliament,it is the obligation of the government and the opposition to get the Bill passed which addresses the issues of poverty and hunger in a country whose social indicator figures were even below the Sub-Sahara African nations,Bangladesh and Pakistan,” Roy said.
She was also critical of the government’s attempt to make new legislations,especially having any kind of sensitivity to economic or defence areas,out of the RTI regime.
“It is a truth that most new Acts which have any kind of sensitivity in terms of economic or defence areas are now fashioned in such a way that they are kept out of the purview of the RTI.
“This is very dangerous because it means that whole chunk of the legislation get immune from right to access to information,” she said.
The activist said her next battle for RTI would be to make sure that access to information was not hampered.
Asked about her next assignment after dissociating from NAC,she said,”I want to shift from an advisor to activist. I want to go back and concentrate on those issues which are still pending like Food Security Bill and accountability legislations.”
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