With demonetisation now a bitter reality in India with the government talking of a major crackdown on black money and terror funding, in UP the daily wage labourers are seeing what is now popular as reverse migration.
Demonetisation or the currency ban has exposed the fragile state of the government’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gaurantee scheme.
In Uttar Pradesh, an ever increasing army of migrant labourers are returning to their villages for lack of work in cities.
This has led to a scramble for employment under the government programme. Panchayat officials say they cannot take in anymore workers. Villagers are yet to get their dues from six months ago.
While demand for work is growing by the day, employment under the job scheme plummeted nationwide in November. The number of households getting work dropped 23% compared to October.
Demonetisation-induced reverse migration has worsened the situation, especially in Uttar Pradesh, which is home to a large section of India’s migrant workforce.
The scheme is aimed at enhancing the livelihood security of the rural poor, by ensuring at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment.
The Centre’s approach to the rural job scheme started changing almost immediately after the Narendra Modi government came to power in 2014.
Interestingly Congress General Secretary, Digvijaya Singh has said no thanks to demonetisation a reverse migration has begun as people with no work have started migrating back to villages. Among the others to make this claim are the AIDWA and the CPI(M).
A month into Modi’s crackdown against “black money”, a severe cash crunch has left daily wagers struggling.
India’s informal economy, almost entirely dependent on cash, has been the worst hit.
On November 8, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stunned all by announcing that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes-the two big currency denominations that account for 86 per cent of the money in circulation by value-invalid.
Ahead of the UP polls which is scheduled earlier next year, politics in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh is in a state of flux. Speculation is that Muslims and some other backward castes, may shift to Bahujan Samaj Party. Even Yadavs find themselves in a dilemma.
With 21.3 per cent Dalit and 19.3 per cent Muslim population, the BSP has been looking quite hopeful.
BJP meanwhile is a bit perturbed over the related developments.
Lakhs of workers have lost their jobs.
As perception matters much in politics, the BJP now appears to be losing the battle. The question is to whom–the BSP or the resurgent Akhilesh- ‘led’ SP.