MGNREGA funds: Maya writes to PM, Ramesh sticks to stand

Written by Deepa Jainani | Lucknow | Updated: Oct 29 2011, 07:22am hrs
In a fresh war of words between the Centre and Uttar Pradesh, state chief minister Mayawati has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accusing his Cabinet colleague Jairam Ramesh of scoring political points by alleging misuse of Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) funds received by the state.

Ramesh, who is the Union rural development minister, had earlier written a hard-hitting letter to the CM of the poll-bound state, accusing her government of not taking adequate action against those allegedly involved in embezzling MGNREGA funds and daring her to recommend a CBI probe.

Rejecting Mayawatis allegation, Ramesh said in New Delhi on Friday he would not hesitate to recommend similar investigation even in Congress-ruled states. He stressed there were deliberate instances of embezzlement of funds in the state. There is no politics involved. My letter is based on reports of NLMs (National Level Monitors) and SQM (State Quality Monitor), he added.

In her letter, the CM stated that funds released to the state for various schemes such as MGNREGA were by no means a largesse bestowed by the Centre. It would be appropriate if the minister is apprised of the Centre-state fiscal federalism provided in the Constitution. He seems to think that central grants for sponsored schemes are discretions he bestows on states; a distinct sign of a colonial hangover. The minister has shown blatant disregard of the Rules of Business by drawing parallels with the National Rural Health Mission investigations, which has no connection, whatsoever, with his ministry, she said, adding that he needed to realise that funds released to the state form part of the revenue-sharing mechanism under our federal system.

Accusing Ramesh of being politically motivated, she said it was obvious the minister had a preconceived agenda.