Attacked by the Opposition over the issue of rural distress, the rural development ministry has drawn a comparative data on employment and expenditure under the BJP-led NDA government’s four years and the UPA’s last four years to project its work as “historic”. A report prepared by the ministry says the government spent Rs 77,711 crore on rural housing programme between 2014- 18 (so far) compared to Rs 43,371 crore during 2010-14 under the UPA and unskilled man days of work generated during the corresponding periods were 49.97 crore and 25.26 crore respectively. It created 1,44,906 km of rural road connecting 36,471 unconnected rural habitations while under the UPA’s last four years 45,924 km of rural road was built connecting 27545 rural habitations. Citing these figures, Minister of State for Rural Development Ram Kripal Yadav claimed that no government has done so much as the NDA to improve living standards in rural India and claimed that its work was “historic”. “Our work to empower the rural areas and the poor living there will be written in golden letters. It is historic,” he said. The report says the government has provided capitalisation support to over five lakh self-help groups aimed at creating self-employment and micro-enterprises till December 2017 while the figure between June 2011, when the scheme was launched, and March 2014 stood at one lakh.
While 33.2 lakh woman farmers were supported under a programme between April 2014 and December 2017, the corresponding numbers of woman farmers was 28 lakh between April 2010 and March 2014, it says. Touching on the flagship rural employment scheme of MNREGA, it says the NDA government’s total expenditure is Rs 1,91,865 crore compared to Rs 1,54,527 crore spent under the last four years of the UPA government. However, the employment went down during this government’s tenure with 826 crore person days of work being generated compared to 926 crore persons days of work created under the said period during the UPA. The ministry attributes the decline to “weeding out of bogus” job cards which resulted in more money being transferred to MNREGA workers. Sixty-five per cent of MNREGA work has catered to agriculture and irrigation projects, Yadav said, claiming that it has made a “positive difference” to the rural economy.