Even an intervention by Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi could not persuade the finance ministry into shelling out Rs 20,000 crore, the amount required to take the rural employment programme to all the 600 districts of the country for 2008-09, the general election year.
The rural development ministry had sought Rs 41,258 crore for 2008-09 for all the programmesNREG (Rs 20,000 crore), Indira Awas Yojana (Rs 7,924 crore), Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (Rs 9,000 crore) and self-help groups (Rs 3,300 crore).
The finance ministry has agreed to give Rs 30,00 crore, if the gross budgetary support is fixed at Rs 2.28 lakh crore for the next fiscal, citing the fact that the government has to achieve the fiscal deficit target of 3% in 2008-09 and meet the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management target, therefore cannot hand out more money. The RD ministrys allocation for 2007-08 was Rs 27,800 crore.
Earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had assured Gandhi and other Congress general secretaries that the UPA governments flagship programme would be universalised to cover all districts of the country.