It was one comment from finance minister Pranab Mukherjee that almost blunted Left's persuasive arguments for increasing the minimum wages under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme during the Question Hour in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
As Mukherjee was explaining how the scheme had increased the purchasing power of the people and said that the wage approved by the Parliament was Rs 100, Brinda Karat of CPM intervened to say that "it is not approved by the Parliament."
Mukherjee sought to remind Karat that the minimum wages in the Left-ruled West Bengal was Rs 56, when the Centre had fixed Rs 60 as the earnings for the NREGA workers in the past.
"I am afraid, madam, I would not be entering into a debate. ...When I had fixed Rs 60 as minimum wage, the minimum wage in West Bengal was Rs 56," he said adding that a worker can purchase at least two kilograms of rice when the minimum wage is R100 but he can do very little if the wage is Rs 8 or Rs 10.
Mukherjee maintained that "some inflationary pressure" will remain in a growing economy.
On Tuesday, the FM urged the states to strengthen public distribution system (PDS) to enable the government insulate the poor from the adverse impact of inflation.
Replying during Question Hour in Rajya Sabha, Mukherjee said the Centre was waiting for a report on how to strengthen and restructure the existing PDS in the country.