Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi took rural development ministry officials by surprise when he questioned their claims on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) at a parliamentary consultative committee meeting on Thursday.
Gandhi, 39, was one of the 17 members who attended the first meeting of the committee, formed on September 16 this year.
He first wanted to know the status and performance of NREGA, the world’s largest socials security scheme, in naxal-affected states in the country.
The top officials soon began scouring the data available and informed him that the UPA government’s rural job scheme was doing well in the 33 identified Maoist-infested districts in the country as compared to other areas.
But the Gandhi scion seemed unsatisfied and asked them: “Can you say it confidently?” and wanted to know if a study had been conducted to establish this claim.
Visibly taken aback, the ministry officials pointed out that they were relying on data provided by the states.
Gandhi then wanted to know if the rise in prices of essential commodities had any impact on NREGA workers and their wages.
The officials informed him that the rural development ministry has initiated a study to assess the impact, if any, on NREGA workers.
Rural Development Minister CP Joshi chaired the meeting of the committee, comprising of 30 MPs, a permanent special invitee and two ex-officio members.