Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, a frequent critic of the centre, hit out once again on Sunday – this time over unemployment. Mr Gandhi accused the Narendra Modi government of failing to meet its promise of jobs for two crore people every year and then enacting policies that “destroyed India’s economic structure” and left crores without jobs.
In a 90-second video posted to his Twitter account Mr Gandhi launched the “Rozgar Do (provide employment)” campaign and urged young people without jobs, as well as others, to raise their voices, speak out and “awaken the government from its slumber”.
“When Narendra Modiji became Prime Minister, he promised the youth of this country that he would give employment to two crore people every year. He sold them a very big dream. The truth is 14 crore people have been made jobless by Narendra Modiji‘s policies,” he said.
“Why did this happen? Because of wrong policies – demonetisation, GST and then (coronavirus) lockdown. Because of these three, the government has destroyed India’s economic structure. The truth now is India cannot give its youth jobs,” Mr Gandhi added.
देश के युवाओं के मन की बात:
रोज़गार दो, मोदी सरकार!
आप भी अपनी आवाज़ युवा कॉंग्रेस के #RozgarDo के साथ जोड़कर, सरकार को नींद से जगाइये।
ये देश के भविष्य का सवाल है। pic.twitter.com/zOt6ng2T0M
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 9, 2020
The Lok Sabha MP from Kerala went on to say that his party’s youth wing, the Indian Youth Congress, would take up this issue and conduct outreach programmes to campaign for the “Rozgar Do” movement.
A similar video was posted by Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, who said: “It is the right of youth that they get employment. That way both they and the country can progress”.
रोज़गार के बगैर ना देश चल पाएगा,न देश का युवा
हम सब मांग करते है,
हमारा अधिकार है कि देश के युवाओं को गुण के आधार पर रोजगार-रोटी व देश की तरक्की में आगे बढ़ने का मौका दे
यही असली राष्ट्र सेवा है pic.twitter.com/sCzub2l7Qf
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) August 9, 2020
Rahul Gandhi and his party have repeatedly targeted the government over unemployment in India, among other issues. Back in February, before the lockdown left lakhs of migrant workers without jobs, Mr Gandhi hit out at 2020 Union Budget, claiming it had “failed miserably” to provide jobs.
Further, around 12 crore people lost jobs in April alone, a month after the first lockdown, according to estimates by the CMIE (Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy).
Unemployment in India stood at 11 per cent in June – down from 23.5 per cent the previous month – according to data released by private think-tank CMIE that said over 46 crore people were looking for jobs in that month. The CMIE also said that unemployment levels “pre-lockdown” were 8.5 per cent.
Mr Gandhi has also been critical about the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, claiming that “mismanagement” of the economy was a “tragedy that is going to destroy millions of families“.
Last month a poll of nearly 60 economists by news agency Reuters indicated the Indian economy is likely to contract this fiscal year as a whole. The predictions come amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, with over 60,000 reported every day for the past three days.
The poll findings echoed criticism of the government’s Rs 20 lakh crore economic rescue package, which does not include direct cash support for the poor – something Mr Gandhi has repeatedly demanded.
As part of the government’s efforts to provide jobs, particularly in rural areas (where the CMIE estimates unemployment at 10.52 per cent), PM Modi last month announced Rs 50,000 crores for the “Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan” – a programme he said was “inspired” by the lakhs of migrants left jobless.
This Rs 50,000 crore, however, is not part of the Rs 20 lakh crore Covid package; it had already been announced during the budget and before the lockdown.
The government also announced a Rs 20,000 crore scheme to help two lakh MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) that provide jobs to crores of and approval of a minimum support price for 14 crops.
The Congress has added unemployment and the handling of the Covid crisis to the list of what it calls the biggest “failures” of PM Modi’s government – the 2016 demonetisation and GST implementation in 2017.
With input from Reuters