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White Paper a 'political manifesto', UPA strengthened foundation of India: Manish Tewari

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Congress MP Manish Tewari speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Budget session of Parliament, in New Delhi

Congress MP Manish Tewari speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Budget session of Parliament, in New Delhi

New Delhi: Congress leader Manish Tewari on Friday called the White Paper brought by the government a "political manifesto", adding that the UPA enacted Acts like the Right to Information, Right to Education, Right to Food and MGNREGA that strengthened the social, political and economic foundation of the country.

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Participating in a debate on the White Paper presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman comparing the UPA and NDA regimes, Tewari said she should talk about the achievements of her government instead.

Tewari called the White Paper a "political manifesto", and said that was proved by its timing ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

"If you wanted to bring a White Paper, you should have brought it in 2014. The intention behind this White Paper is only political. This is a political manifesto, not a white paper." Tewari said.

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He said the UPA government under Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi made "fundamental corrections that strengthened the social, political and economic foundation of the country." "The first was the Right to Information, 130 crore people got RTI. They could get information from block to national level with a Rs 10 application. Unfortunately, from 2014 to 2024, the RTI has been dismantled.

"The second big achievement was Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). In 2005 when we brought MGNREGA, and ensured a legal guarantee of work for 100 days, from 2014 to 2024, why did you not make it even 101 days? You kept cursing the law," he said.

"The third was the Right to Education... fourth the National Food Security Act and the fifth was Aadhaar, which laid the foundation and when the UPA left the government, over 80 crore Aadhaar cards had been made," he said. 

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"I want to ask what is your achievement? If you think demonetisation, or GST, which destroyed small and medium industry, are achievements, I leave it to your wisdom," he said.

Talking about the MGNREGA, he said the fact that the budget for the scheme has kept going up shows that there is unemployment, and people are ready to work for minimum wages.

"In 2013-14, MGNREGA budget was Rs 33,000 crore, the actual spending was Rs 32,992 crore.

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In 2023-24 it increased to Rs 86,000 crore. It means employment is not being generated in the economy, people are ready to work for minimum wages."

"You should thank the UPA, you used to say it is the scheme of digging and filling holes, this scheme has saved you or there would have been anarchy," he said.

He also said while the NDA government has brought 25 crore people out of poverty, under the UPA regime, 27 crore people were brought out of poverty.

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