The Telegraph
Tuesday , April 8 , 2014
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Social activist bats for MGNREGS friend

- Dreze campaigns for AAP in Dhanbad

Dhanbad, April 7: Economist and social activist Jean Dreze today turned star campaigner for friend Gurjeet Singh at Topchanchi in Dhanbad.

Singh, also a social activist, is contesting the Lok Sabha polls as an AAP candidate from Giridih seat. Topchanchi, although a part of Dhanbad district, falls under Giridih constituency that will vote on April 17.

Dreze, who arrived at Gomoh station from Ranchi via the Hatia-Patna Super Express around 9.45am, was accorded a warm welcome by Singh and his supporters.

After a stopover at Singh’s Topchanchi house, where he stayed for an hour or so, the economist, who used to advise Sonia Gandhi on development issues, went to Chitarpur, about 50km from the district headquarters, and met around 30-35 Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) labourers. He urged the rural workers to vote for Singh besides enquiring whether they were receiving timely payment under the scheme that was originally conceptualised by him, but later diluted and enacted into law by the Centre.

The meeting concluded in less than 20 minutes after which Dreze reached Gend Nawadih in Topchanchi, around 6km from Chitarpur, where he addressed more than 200 farmers and MGNREGS labourers.

“I am not here to support any political party, but to support an individual who is a genuine person working for the downtrodden sections of the society. I hope he will continue to work for the cause of the common people if he wins,” said the economist, who has collaborated with Amartya Sen in authoring major works on hunger and public action.

Dreze also adressed public at Khairabad besides taking part in a road show at Ramkunda and a street corner meeting at Kharakia.

“This is probably my third visit to Dhanbad and I am here to support a social activist, whom I know for several years. My support is not for a particular political party,” he reiterated while speaking to the media, adding that he might also campaign for Dayamani Barla, the AAP candidate from Khunti.

“My support is based on principles and not for a party even though I feel that AAP is more transparent than other parties. Sources of fundings are more transparent in this party and scope of corruption is less,” he pointed out.

Singh, who worked with Literacy Mission of Dhanbad from 1994 to 2002 before turning into a RTI and MGNREGS activist, said: “My association with Dreze dates back to 2003-04 when we were launched a campaign for implementation of midday meal. We later worked together as MGNREGS activists.”

lGiridih votes on April 17