AHMEDABAD: BJP MP Varun Gandhi Friday said MNREGA, a scheme from the UPA era which guarantees employment in rural areas, was a "good policy".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had once called the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) scheme a "living monument of UPA's failure" to tackle poverty.
"I actually support MNREGA. I think it is a good policy. It is a misconception to say that the scheme is a failure," Gandhi said, addressing students of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A).
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'.
Gandhi said villagers should be given the power to decide what kind of work they wanted in the villages under MNREGA.
He said instead of focusing on "next elections", he would prefer to think about "next generation".
Gandhi also said that 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.
Out of 15.5 lakh schools in the country, only 1.2 per cent are affiliated to "posh boards" such as CBSE or ICSE, while only 8 per cent students who got admission to the IITs in 2015-16 were from schools affiliated to state boards, he said.
"Let us be clear, in India, privilege does perpetuate privilege," Gandhi said.
Talking 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.
"Rs one lakh invested in textiles sector can create 24 jobs. Rs 24 lakh invested in steel sector would create (only) one job," he said.
Asked about farmers converging in Delhi to press their demands, Gandhi said such freedom does not exist in countries such as Russia, China or Saudi Arabia.