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Increase in MGNREGA person-days last year 'living monument' of Modi govt's many failures: Cong

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New Delhi, Apr 1 (PTI) The Congress on Monday said unemployment and stagnant wages are defining features of the Modi government's "anyay kaal" and that the increase in MGNREGA person-days last year is a "living monument" of the current dispensation's many failures.

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In a statement, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said the data on demand for MGNREGA person-days in the last financial year released by the government shows that rural India is still reeling from economic distress as a result of economic mismanagement and incompetence.

He said MGNREGA was designed by the UPA government to be a safety net for the rural poor, providing a guarantee of 100 days of employment when the economy is in distress.

"It is demand-driven, which means that employment is generated only when there is no alternative paying better wages," he said.

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In FY 2023-24, poor rural families have demanded 305 crore person-days of work under MGNREGA, this is an additional 40 crore person-days in FY 2023-2024 compared to the pre-pandemic era, he pointed out.

Ramesh further said, "There is now a growing wealth of data that confirms our fears of widespread unemployment and stagnant wages, particularly in rural India: The ILO's recent India Employment Report showed that each year, India adds around 70-80 lakh youths to the labour force, but between 2012 and 2019, there was almost zero growth in employment - just 0.01%!" The same report showed that real wages of regular workers remained stagnant or declined between 2012 and 2022, he said, adding that inflation has been uncontrolled, and workers can now afford less than they could 10 years ago.

"PLFS data from 2022-23 shows that nearly 12 crore workers in India earn less than Rs 100 a day (nominal). Farm output, which contributes about 15% of GDP and employs more than 40% of the workforce, has slowed to 1.8% in FY23, from 4% in FY22," he said.

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Tractor sales, a proxy for rural economic health, have declined 4 per cent in FY24, while two-wheeler sales, another indicator of upward mobility among India's poor, were 22 per cent lower in 2022-23 than in 2017-18, Ramesh said.

"Unfortunately, the Modi Sarkar's ministers have consistently refuted this reality since it runs counter to their 'Viksit Bharat' narrative. A Government that refuses to listen to today's grim reality will be unsuccessful in combating it," he asserted.

Ramesh said that in February 2015, soon after coming to office, the prime minister remarked in Parliament that MGNREGA is a "living monument" of the Congress' failures.

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"The Modi Sarkar then had to rely on MGNREGA as the primary source of income support during the COVID-19 pandemic - and continues to do so today," he said.

"The increase in MGNREGA person-days last year is in fact a 'living monument' to the Modi Sarkar's many failures," Ramesh said.

In a post on X, the Congress leader said unemployment and stagnant wages are the defining features of the Modi government's 'Dus Saal Anyay Kaal'. PTI ASK DIV DIV

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