A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took pot-shots at the Congress over the UPA’s flagship MNREGA scheme, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today promised to enhance allocation to the scheme by Rs 5,000 crore — the highest-ever allocation to the scheme — in his much anticipated Union Budget.
The MNREGA, that was kick-started by the earlier UPA regime, is a mass programme that guarantees 100 days of wage employment to a rural household. The programme was repeatedly invoked in the Congress’s election campaigns in the run up to the parliamentary polls last year. However, the party suffered its biggest electoral rout since independence.
Modi, in his vote-of-thanks speech in the Lok Sabha on Friday, had said, “My political sense tells me never to scrap MNREGA. Because MNREGA is a living memorial to your failures. Aur main gaaje-baaje ke saath iska dhol peet-ta rahoonga. MNREGA rahega, aan-baan-shaan se rahega aur gaaje-baaje ke saath duniya mein bataya jayega.” As stunned Congress members watched, Modi mocked the party, saying that under this scheme, it had to send people to dig pits 60 years after independence.
He piled on the sarcasm by adding that his government would add whatever is necessary to the scheme and would not subtract anything from it. “Don’t worry…whatever has to be added, will be added. Whatever strength has to be given…we’ll give it. Because we want the people to know who has left these ruins… who forced you to dig these pits even after so many years,” he remarked, telling the Congress that it had “left its footprints” for the people to know and understand.
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