Varun Gandhi, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP and a cousin of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, on Friday said he supports Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), a scheme from the UPA era which guarantees employment in rural areas, and said it was a "good policy".
"I actually support MNREGA. I think it is a good policy. It is a misconception to say that the scheme is a failure," Varun, addressing students of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) said.
Varun’s statement contradicts the opinion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had once called the MNREGA scheme a "living monument of UPA's failure" to tackle poverty.
The Sultanpur MP was invited by the institute to speak on issues he had written about in his upcoming book 'A Rural Manifesto: Realising India's Future Through Her Villages'.
According to Varun, villagers should be given the power to decide what kind of work they wanted in the villages under the MNREGA.
The BJP leader also said looking at the backgrounds of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) Officers, it was clear that privilege has played a major role in their success.
"As per the information I received through a query under the Right To Information, 69 per cent of serving IAS officers have been to private schools, 84 per cent of them have grown up in 25 big cities and 70 per cent have a post-graduate degree which is a luxury," he said.
He also spoke about non-performing assets of banks. He said the problem did not arise because farmers did not repay their loans.
"The total amount of money given to farmers in loan waiver is 23 per cent of the money given to 40 richest families (family-run business groups) in the last 40 years," he said.
He advocated investment in the textile sector to create jobs.
Earlier, speaking to News18, Varun said he broke his vow of donating his salary to families of debt-ridden farmers who committed suicide since he realised that very few people benefitted from it.
“I donated my salary, which went on for a few years, but I realised that very few benefitted from it. I also read that subaltern movements are missing and questioned why the politics today is devoid of larger movements. We decided to sit down and draw up an economic model to understand why farmers commit suicide. We came across many reasons for it,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)