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New Delhi: Social activist Aruna Roy has opted out of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) even as she sought to attack the Prime Minister’s Office for not accepting the council’s recommendations on minimum wages under the central government’s rural jobs scheme.

Roy, known for her advocacy of the Right to Information (RTI) Act of 2005 and efforts to improve the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), has been a member of the NAC, which sets the government’s social agenda, since its formation in 2004. Her term ends on Sunday.

She denied speculations that she had quit the body because she was upset, saying the decision had been carefully thought-out and is meant to provide her a change of role.

“I am not miffed. I want to move from the advisory role to actually become a practitioner now," Roy said.

“I want to be with people and see how these policies can be effected. I want to be in that paradigm now."

In a 11 May letter to NAC chairperson Gandhi, released to the press by Roy’s office, on Wednesday, Roy said: “I am grateful for you accepting my request, while assuring your continued support to campaigns for social sector causes being taken up outside NAC."

The letter also criticized the Prime Minister’s Office for spurning the recommendations of NAC on minimum wages under the MGNREGS, which guarantees 100 days of work each year to at least one member of every rural household.

“I do believe that it is extremely unfortunate the Prime Minister rejected NAC recommendations on payment of minimum wages to MGNREGA workers and chose instead to appeal the Karnataka high court judgment ordering the payment of minimum wages to MGNREGA workers," she said.

It was “even more distressing" that the government refused to pay minimum wages even after the apex court had refused to staye the he Karnataka high court’s order, she said.

There is no uniform minimum wage under the MGNREGS at the national level. Each state has a different minimum wage.

The Supreme Court in January last year had asked the central government why it could not bring minimum wages paid under the MGNREGS on par with the minimum wages prevailing in some states.

“However, I realise that this effort to persuade the Government to respect the minimum wages law must now continue outside the NAC," Roy said in the letter.

With the NAC, Roy has worked on RTI, MGNREGS and more recently the drafting of the pre-legislative consultative processes for the council. While with the council too, Roy has been vocal in her criticism of the lack of income support for the elderly and the delay in passing the grievance redressal bill.

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