Gujarat has 3.64 lakh educated and “semi-educated” youngsters registered on employment exchanges, according to figures shared by Labour, Skill Development and Employment Minister Brijesh Merja, even though the ruling BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi remain voters’ favourites.
According to the data shared by Merja in response to questions raised by Congress during the state Legislative Assembly session in March, the highest number of unemployed youths — 26,921 — were in Vadodara, followed by Ahmedabad (26,628), Anand (22,515), Rajkot (18,997) and Kheda (16,163) districts, till December 2021.
Elections for the 182-member Gujarat Legislative Assembly are being held in two phases on Thursday (December 1) and December 5.
While Modi and BJP remain popular in the state, the unemployment issue remains a matter of concern.
The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), in its recent report titled ‘Unemployment in India – A Statistical Profile’, pegged the overall unemployment rate in Gujarat at 2.83 per cent that existed between May and August this year, against 10.86 per cent at national level for the same period.
The sample size of the CMIE survey in Gujarat was 9,066 households.
In a more realistic indicator of unemployment in Gujarat, about 17 lakh candidates reportedly applied for 3,400 vacant posts of Talati cum Minister or village panchayat secretary a few months ago.
In Godhra, Deepak Padhiyar, a second year student at the Seth PT Arts and Science and Law College, said he had applied for the post of police constable but could not clear the written exam, however, his quest for a better life will continue.
My father is a cobbler with the State Reserve Police Force and mother is a homemaker who also takes care of our footwear shop, he said.
“There is hardly any income from the shop. Now I want to apply for the post of Talati (revenue officer). This time my preference will be AAP,” Padhiyar said, citing the “Delhi model of governance” as the reason behind him choosing the Arvind Kejriwal-led party.
Srimali Kirit (22), a first-year law student, claimed unemployment is a crucial factor in the state.
“This (BJP) government is emphasising on contractual workers who have no pension. There is a need for government jobs with implementation of the old pension scheme that will give workers protection after retirement,” Kirit said.
He said his father is no more and his mother gets a pension of ₹12,000 and another pension of ₹1,200 under a central scheme for widows — not enough for the family to sustain their livelihood.
Amid high decibel poll campaign in the state, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has given a “guarantee” to provide a job to every unemployed youth in Gujarat over the next five years. The party has promised to provide ₹3,000 per month as unemployment allowance to youth from the state coffer till they remain unemployed.
The Congress too has promised to generate 10 lakh jobs in government and semi-government departments.
With the rivals raising the issue of unemployment prominently in their poll campaigns, the ruling BJP has also promised that it will create 20 lakh employment opportunities and take the state’s economy to $1 trillion in the next five years if voted back to power.
In its manifesto released by party president JP Nadda in the presence of Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and state unit chief CR Paatil, the BJP promised to create more than one lakh government jobs for women over the next five years.
In October, the ABP News-C Voter had claimed that around 31.4 percent of voters surveyed by them had cited unemployment as their main concern.