President of the Indian National Congress Sonia Gandhi in an article written in The Indian Express appealed to the government to use The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in the people’s time of need. She highlighted the importance of the programme in lifting the population out of the extreme poverty and urged government to use the scheme in these difficult times.
Later in the article Gandhi wrote that the Modi government grudgingly accepted the significance of the programme. However, she said that now people are in dire need and BJP, instead of playing BJP vs Congress, should use it for the benefit of the poor.
The MGNREGA, the leader said, has proved its worth because it continuously improved and evolved during the UPA years through extensive social audits, transparency, openness to scrutiny by journalists and academics, and the appointment of an ombudsman.
Gandhi also highlighted the significance of MGNREGA in poverty alleviation in the article.
The congress leader targeted the current government and said that Modi government's dislike towards the wholesale adoption of the programme has not stopped the country to forget how it lifted millions of Indians from extreme poverty, transformed Panchayati Raj, contributed to climate change mitigation and revived the rural economy.
Talking about the social change created by MGNREGA, she went on to write that it empowered the marginalised sections of the society through its rule of equal pay and earned them a life of dignity and self-respect.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (in 2015) had called the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) as a ‘living monument of failures’ of the UPA government.
But today at this timeout crisis, the government has depended on the same scheme to provide direct employment to the migrant workers who are hurt due to Coronavirus-induced lockdown.
In the fifth and the last tranche of Rs 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced an additional allocation of Rs 40,000 crore under MGNREGA. This is in addition to Rs 61,000 crore already announced in the Budget.