April 13, 2014
Tripura Again Tops in MGNREGA Implementation

Rahul Sinha

SHOWING an alternative path of development yet again, Tripura topped in the matter of MGNREGA implementation for the fourth time in a row. This success of the Left Front government of Tripura vindicates the dire need of establishing a government which could implement alternative, pro-people policies at the centre too. In the financial year 2012-13, the state stood first among the 28 Indian states for having provided each enrolled person 87 days of work a year on an average. Now, as the financial year 2013-14 ended on March 31, Tripura was way ahead of other states again by providing the same number of days of work per person in a year, as it had done earlier. As for the other 27 states, they are way behind Tripura. Sikkim is at the second position by providing 58 days of work per person per year, and Tamilnadu came third by providing 56 days of work per person per year. West Bengal once again cut a sorry figure. The TMC ruled state was at the 21st position. Briefing the media on the issue, C K Jamatia, joint secretary of state rural development department, said as per the figures posted on the website of the union rural development ministry, the state has provided to each enrolled person 87 days of work in a year. However, as some blocks are yet to submit their final figures because of the delay in release of funds by the centre, the ministry has been requested to extend the deadline of entry of figures for the FY 2013-14 up to April 15. It is pertinent to mention here that it was under the pressure of struggles launched by the CPI(M), AIAWU and other Left forces that the first UPA had to legislate the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in 2005-06, which was later named after Mahatma Gandhi and thus became the MGNREGA. The scheme envisaged 100 days of work for one member of an enrolled household. As for Tripura, Dhalai district of the state was among the areas where the project was initiated in the very first year, and Dhalai topped the list of all the districts in the country in the first year itself. Since then, there has been no looking back. In 2007-08 the national average of working days was 35 per person per year, while it was 43 in Tripura. In 2008-09 the figure for Tripura and the national average were 64 and 48 respectively. In 2009-10 the state provided 79 days of work to each household while the all India average was a mere 54. In the year 2010-11, due to the delayed and insufficient release of funds from the centre, the state could provide only 67 days of work per person, even though it was far ahead of the national average of 47 days. Then, in 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14, the numbers of days of work provided per person in the state were 86, 87 and 87 respectively. Among the eight districts of the state, South Tripura came first by providing an average of 97.46 days of work per household in the year. It also topped all the districts of the country by spending as much as 98.27 percent of the money released. The district has also created a good amount of durable community assets by spending the money. MASSIVE, PEACEFUL POLLING IN W TRIPURA THE tradition of people enthusiastically casting their votes in a peaceful atmosphere and in a festive mood, which has been the general feature of any election in Tripura, asserted itself again on April 7 when the West Tripura parliamentary seat went to the polls. According to the chief electoral officer (CEO) of Tripura, Asutosh Jindal, the percentage of polling was 83 till 5 p m. The voting started at 7 a m and, from the beginning itself, there were seen long queues of people at the polling booths. In tribal areas in particular, the festive mood was evident as tribal women in their traditional attires came to exercise their democratic right. Mothers carrying their children and elderly women with their family members were the first to cast their vote. In the city too, as usual, women were in the forefront in exercising their franchise. The opposition was disarrayed; in a number of booths even in Agartala city, a traditional stronghold of the Congress, the party was unable to have its polling agents. The picture of despondency was no different in other parts of the constituency.  Chief minister Manik Sarkar cast his vote in the booth set up in the Sishubihar Higher Secondary School. After having cast his vote, he expressed the hope that voting would go on peacefully as usual. Replying to a question from mediapersons, he said there was no Modi wave in the country, and that Modi's Gujarat model of development is for the corporate houses and that is why the corporate world has been helping him like anything. The so called Modi wave was in fact a fanciful creation of the corporate media. The polling was absolutely peaceful, said the CEO. Even the Congress spokesman, Dr Ashok Sinha, termed the polling as cool as snowfall. The CPI(M)’s Tripura state secretariat, in a statement, thanked all the electorate, the polling personnel and the security personnel for this peaceful and fear-free polling. The party hoped that the same atmosphere would be there on April 12 as well when Tripura East seat would go to polling. Earlier, during the campaigning in the West Tripura parliamentary constituency, which ended at 5 p m on April 5, the Left Front ran an intense campaign with a series of mass meetings in all the 30 assembly segments comprising this parliamentary constituency. Towards the end of the Left Front campaign, it focussed on a series of processions in every assembly segment and local committee area. Huge enthusiasm of the people was easily evident as the colourful processions appealed for a huge victory of the Left Front nominated CPI(M) candidate, Shankar Prasad Dutta. The desperation and despair of the Congress was no secret as the leader of opposition blamed the Trinamool Congress (TMC) for dividing the anti-Left vote just to attain the status of an all-India party. He said the Left could have been brought down to a single digit if only Ms Mamata Banerjee had agreed to fight this election in a seat adjustment with the Congress but that, with her denial, the Left would now get votes in a double digit for which the onus would be lying on the Bengal chief minister.