NREGA Workers Want PM Narendra Modi Booked for ‘Making False Promises’

Hundreds of workers attempted to lodge FIRs, saying they have been denied work and wages, that the Centre is violating the law and the prime minister is the ‘principal violator’.

New Delhi: Thousands of MGNREGA workers across the country on Thursday attempted to lodge FIRs against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ‘making false promises’ and ‘cheating’ workers by not paying wages on time. The coordinated attempt was made in 150 police stations in nine states across the country.

The police, however, did not register the FIR at any police station. At a few stations, they received the complaint and promised an ‘inquiry’.

The workers argue that by not providing adequate work and delaying wages, the government of India had violated the law. And Modi, as the head of the government, is the ‘principal violator’. Thus, the workers demanded, that Modi be booked under Sections 116 (Abetment of offence) and 420 (Cheating and dishonesty) of the Indian Penal code.

According to the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, in the last five years, the employment guarantee scheme has been ‘deliberately undermined’. The organisation has argued that the government has allocated insufficient funds, not met the demand for additional funds on time, delayed wage payments and suppressed work demand.

Also read: Continued Fund Shortage, Wage Payment Delays Have Put MGNREGA in Peril

In February, after the Union Budget was announced, The Wire highlighted that the allocation for MGNREGA for 2019-20 was, in fact, lower than that for 2018-19.

In January, The Wire reported that 99% of the funds allocated for MGNREGA were exhausted with three months to go for the end of the financial year.

Subsequently, the Centre allocated an additional Rs 6,084 crore that took the total allocation to Rs 61,084 crore. In the 2018 Budget, the government had allocated Rs 55,000 crore to the rural employment scheme.

By announcing an allocation of Rs 60,000 crore for the financial year 2019-20, the government, in fact, reduced the funds set for MGNREGA.

“It is ironic that a government which seems to have plenty of money to fund bullet trains and to compensate banks for NPAs of corporates who looted the banks, has no money to pay workers who have done their fair share of work and are now awaiting their wages,” the NREGA Sanghash Morcha said in a press release.