Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told in Parliament that his government will never discontinue the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), a flagship scheme by the UPA government, which was introduced in 2006 amidst severe opposition.
Why? Well, according to the present government it is a "living example of Congress' failures."
"I will ensure MNREGA is never discontinued. It is proof of your failings. After so many years of being in power, all you were able to deliver is for a poor man to dig ditches a few days a month," Modi had said.
Today, the Finance Minister decided to give the MNREGA a big push by allocating the highest amount ever. The scheme, once the bugbear of NDA, has now come centrestage with allocations of Rs38,500 crore.
Rs 38,500 cr allocated for MNREGA in 2016-17, the highest ever if entire amount is spent.— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) February 29, 2016
In the previous budget, Jaitley had given a marginal hike to the scheme’s allocation from Rs34,000 crore to Rs 34,699 crore, while promising to enhance the allocation by another Rs5,000 crore if there is tax buoyancy.
The scheme, which promises hundred days of employment every year to each rural household, has been in the midst of controversy since the NDA took over, with activists and opposition parties accusing the government of trying to dilute the scheme and squeeze its funds.
In 2014-15, the scheme’s allocation was slashed in the revised estimates to around Rs31,000 crore from Rs34,000 crore, reports Indian Express.
The allocation had been depleting over the past couple of years. In 2009-10, the scheme had an allocation of Rs39,100 crore, which remained high till 2012-13, when it was slashed to Rs33,000 crore and has since remained around the same.