LJD MP Shreyams Kumar attacks govt for 'reduced' allocation of funds to MNREGA

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New Delhi, Feb 12 (PTI) Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) MP M V Shreyams Kumar on Friday attacked the government in Rajya Sabha for 'reducing' the allocation of funds to MNREGA saying the next budget could be the 'last nail in the coffin' of the rural employment guarantee scheme.

He also criticised the government for reduced funds for the healthcare sector and for women empowerment in the union budget.

Participating in the debate on the budget, Kumar hit out at the government for privatisation of LIC and the lack of efforts on its part to bail out BSNL.

He alleged government's apathy towards MNREGA scheme and said the lower allocation indicates that the next next budget could be the end of the scheme.

'The budget has shown 'krodha' (anger), 'mada' (false pride or ego) and 'matsarya' (envy or jealousy) on the flagship programme of the UPA government and the world's largest rural employment guarantee programme - MNREGA with a reduced allocation of Rs 38,500 crore i.e., a 34 per cent reduction,' he said in the Upper House.

If this is any indication, the 'next budget will be the last nail in the coffin of MNREGA', he added.

Talking about budget outlay for the health sector, Kumar said the allocation is lower than the revised estimate of this fiscal year.

'The finance minister claims that there is an increase of 137 per cent in the budget outlay for health. This is nothing but a jugglery of figures,' he charged.

The budget estimate for health is Rs 74,602 crore only, which actually is lower by Rs 7,843 crore i.e., lower by 9.5 per cent than the revised estimate, he added.

Similarly, there is a 95 per cent reduction for Women Empowerment Mission, Kumar said.

Attacking the government, he said the proposal for privatising the largest and most trusted insurance company in India - LIC - and sale of central PSUs two public sector banks and one general insurance company militates against the establishment of a socialistic pattern of society envisaged by the country's founding fathers.

'Article 39 (c) of the Constitution provides for regulating the economic system of the country so as to prevent concentration of wealth and resources in a few hands,' he noted.

Kumar said that no attempt has been made in the budget to strengthen or bailout a struggling giant like BSNL.

'When the whole world is going digital, BSNL could play a vital role in improving connectivity especially in the rural areas of the country. The neglect shown by the Union Budget is the last straw on the camel's back as far as an ailing BSNL is concerned,' he noted.

Kumar said the Budget has no strategy for increasing revenues.

'With a poor track record in generating non-tax revenues, the BJP government's budget makes several false and lofty promises for increased spending on infrastructure etc with hardly anything at hand to spend,' he added.

The MP also questioned the rationale of continued suspension of MPLADS.

'Kerala from which I am from, continues with the Special Development fund for MLAs. So, do other states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. We are approached by our constituents for small works in the local area. It is a paradox that what the MLAs in the states could do, the MPs cannot do,' he said.

Kumar said the finance minister has eyed on the ensuing elections in West Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Tamil Nadu and promised allocation for road infrastructure.

'The people in these states cannot be swayed away by the 'moha' (delusion) created by the finance minister,' he noted.

Kumar said the government overlooked several demands of Kerala in the Budget.

'Even though Rs 1,000 crore were allocated for the welfare of tea workers in Assam and West Bengal, Kerala is totally ignored. Kerala produces 60.76 million kilograms of tea every year and is ranked fourth in India,' he said.

Smilarly, Kerala's demand for Trivandrum-Kasaragode semi high speed rail project, setting up of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Sabari Rail project, which aims to put the hill shrine into the railway network have been totally ignored, Kumar said.

Besides, the long pending demand for special railway zone for Kerala has also not been considered, he added. PTI MSS MJH ZMN