New Delhi, Sep 26 (UNI) A day after taking charge as General Secretary, Mr Rahul Gandhi today led a delegation of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and urged him to extend the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) to the country as a whole.
''...NREGA should be extended by the Government of India to the rural areas in all of the nearly 600 districts in the country in order to promote sustainable development and livelihood systems for the rural poor acrss the country,'' the 11-member delegation said in a memorandum submitted to Dr Singh.
The Prime Minister assured the delegation that their request would be given serious consideration and that a decision on the matter taken shortly by the Government.
The leaders told Dr Singh that if the coverage under the NREGA was doubled, it would be in the interests of the ''aam aadmi,'' and would reinforce the government's commitment to eradicating poverty.
Besides Mr Gandhi, the delegation consisted of senior leaders Veerappa Moily, Ashok Gehlot, Janardan Dwivedi, Kishore Chandra Deo, Mukul Wasnik, Margaret Alva, Prithviraj Chavan, V Narayanaswamy, Satyavrat Chaturvedi and V Arun Kumar.
The Congress leaders discussed with Dr Singh the expansion of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act to uncovered areas of the country in the context of its success in 330 districts where it is being implemented.
They mentioned that the NREGA ''is the landmark initiative of the UPA government which fulfills a promise that was made to the People by the Congress party's election manifesto.'' ''It is also a key element of the National Common Minimum Programme, which forms the basis of governance at the centre.
The delegation highlighted that the passage of the NREG Act and its implementation in many parts has been widely welcomed across the length and breadth of the country.
''For the first time, the poor people of the country have been given a legally enforceable right to get minimum employment for a 100 days,'' the memorandum said, while pointing out that the Act had provided relief to those in distress and made a significant difference to the lives of the rural poor who have used it to secure relief wherever they had no other source of livelihood.
''Its popularity can be assessed from the widespread demand to extend it to other parts of the country. The Act itself has an inbuilt commitment to roll it out to cover the entire country,'' the memorandum said.