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Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
Outlook.com

Nitin Gadkari, 57

Rural development minister 4/10; Succeeded by Chaudhary Birendra Singh in November

Nitin Gadkari, 57
Nitin Gadkari, 57
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

For a ministry that gets a lion’s share of budgetary allocations—a massive Rs 80,000 crore—there has been little activity in the last seven months, although it has seen three ministers. That’s disturbing, given that MRD enforces the cream of the social development schemes, including the UPA’s pet project NREGA. But “outsider” Gadkari, who replaced his statemate Gopinath Munde following his demise, before being shunted to the surface transport ministry, has been barely away from the news, but for the wrong reasons. First, newspaper reports surfaced of his home being “bugged” (denied), then reports of his throwing his hat into the Maharashtra chief ministerial ring (again denied), then pictures of his riding a scooter helmetless (confirmed).

On the BJP’s antipathy towards “doles”, the Man from Nagpur was on the money. Even as Modi was paving the way for his ouster ahead of the November revamp, word leaked out that the minister was looking at limiting NREGA to a certain number of districts and also tinkering with the policy. The BJP government’s disquiet with “doles” is well-known, as is the constant refrain to develop better delivery models for these subsidies. That’s perhaps why RSS man Gadkari famously said, “Managing rural development is a very difficult task for me. I am trying my level best, I am working from 8:00 am up to 2 am.”

The ministry’s key action has been to stall NREGA. The all-important scheme is in a mess and is facing a big problem of flow of funds. In many states, wages of people identified under the scheme have been delayed for months and state CMs have been complaining to the centre. The state-wise picture is bizarre. The poorer states of Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have received almost no funds or they have...

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