Rahul seeks centralised monitoring of rural employment programme

Youth brigade: (From left) Jyotiraditya Scindia, Rahul Gandhi, Jitin Prasad, Deepender Hooda, Tejaswini Sri Ramesh and other MPs after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Thursday. Congress MP and general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Thursday led a delegation of MPs to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for centralised monitoring of the programme under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. There is a demand to expand the scheme from 330 districts to cover all 600 districts. This is the second time that Mr. Gandhi has met the Prime Minister on NREGA, a flagship programme of the UPA government. However, there have been several complaints about the manner in which the programme, meant to give 100 days of employment to one able-bodied person in a rural household, was being implemented by States. "We met the Prime Minister to discuss the implementation of the NREGA. We gave some suggestions on how we can improve its implementation,' Mr. Gandhi told journalists after the meeting. He said they made some points for its better implementation. The delegation sought social auditing mechanisms to identify those who deserved to be in the programme and those who did not. For this, they sought the creation of an IT infrastructure "which would make available at the press of a button the beneficiaries and make for greater accountability,' said party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi. He said the MPs urged the Prime Minister to ensure that NREGA was operationalised nation-wide in a transparent and participatory manner. "Since the programme is largely funded by the Centre, the delegation felt that the Central government should monitor how States were spending allocations and promote mutual learning amongst States by following best practices of specific State governments, such as Andhra Pradesh.' The Prime Minister is understood to have assured the delegation that he would look into their demands. Among those who accompanied Mr. Gandhi were Jyotiraditya Scindia, Tushar Amarsinh Choudhry, Milind Deora, Sandeep Dixit, Deepender Hooda, Jitin Prasad, Pallam Raju, Devavrata Singh, Tejaswini Sri Ramesh and Balashowry Vallabhaneni.