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The Union Rural Development Ministry has increased the rate of wages under the MGNREGA for the 2019-20 fiscal with approval from the Election Commission and has asked state governments not to publicise the enhancement of wage rates under the rural employment scheme.
The Congress and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) have criticised the government for "increasing wage rates days before the Lok Sabha polls".
According to the government notifications available with IANS, the wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, have increased in a range of two to 8.76 per cent in most of the states except West Bengal, Karnataka, Kerala and Goa, where the wages have not been increased for the 2019-20 fiscal.
Among the states, the increase of wages in Mizoram was the highest at 8.76 per cent from Rs 194 to Rs 211.
As per the notification, which was circulated to the state governments on Thursday, the highest wage under the MGNREGA is Rs 284 in Haryana, while the lowest is Rs 171 in Bihar and Jharkhand.
Officials of various governments in northeastern states told IANS that they have been instructed by the Election Commission and the Rural Development Ministry not to disclose any facts about the increase in wages under the flagship rural employment scheme.
A letter to Union Rural Development Secretary Election Commission Secretary Avinash Kumar, that has been accessed by IANS, said that no political functionary shall make any reference in this regard during any public speech or communication to the media and people.
However, the CPI-M and Congress criticised the central government for increasing the wages under the MGNREGA just on the eve of Lok Sabha elections and telecasting the news through the government owned electronic media - All India Radio and Doordarshan.
Tripura Pradesh Congress Vice-President Tapas Dey said that increasing the wages under MGNREGA days before the Lok Sabha elections is a gross violation of the model code of conduct, and that the Election Commission should not have allowed the Centre to hike the wages.
CPI-M Central Committee member Gautam Das also said that the decision to increase the wages under the MGNREGA is a blatant violation of model code of conduct (MCC).
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already violated the MCC on a number of occasions," he said
"While Modi during his Tripura assembly election campaign last year announced MGNREGA wages would rise atleast up to Rs 200, and minimum wages to Rs 340, but in the government notification the MGNREGA wages were increased from Rs 177 to Rs 192 for Tripura. It is a clear cheating to the people of Tripura," Das, who is also the Tripura state secretary of the CPI-M, said.
The BJP, however, did not make any comments on the issue.