Telangana poll heat? KCR turns his focus on employment issues
KCR and his son KT Rama Rao are now desperately trying to woo angry unemployed youth in the state with promises of filling up government job vacancies in a time-bound manner
As the election campaign picks up momentum in poll-bound Telangana, Bharata Rashtra Samiti (BRS) chief K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) seems to have changed his party's election campaign strategy midway to focus on the criticial issue of employment as a key electoral plank.
For the first time after weeks of campaigning, KCR and his son and IT minister KT Ramarao, in a surprising twist, empathised with government job aspirants and spoke about the need to fill up vacancies in the government sector in a time-bound manner.
While KCR assured that he would focus on filling up job vacancies in the government sector after he is voted to power, his son has promised to release a timetable for the recruitment process for all government jobs.
Addressing public meetings earlier this week in Manakondur, Station Ghanpur, and Nakrekal as part of his campaign for BRS candidates, KCR brought up this emotive issue of the vacancies in government posts and the need to fill them.
Around the same time, in Hyderabad, KT Ramarao, who is also the BRS working president, while interacting with job aspirants, assured them of a job calendar to carry out the recruitments with a time frame in place. He also said that he will increase the number of jobs under Group-2 category.
Later, he posted on the microblogging site X that he would meet the government job aspirants at their Ashok Nagar ‘adda’ (a place where leading coaching centres are located in Hyderabad) to tackle any of their apprehensions.
Interestingly, in the past, even at the height of the agitations that rocked the state after question papers of the Group-1 exam held by the Telangana Public Service Commission (TSPSC) were leaked, no voices were raised on the behalf of the lakhs of unemployed aspirants for government jobs.
Government jobs take centrestage
With elections around the corner, this has become a priority. Political observers feel that the sudden shift in the BRS campaign theme is due to the realisation that unemployed youth can probably mar the party’s prospects in a big way.
According to professor PL Visweswara Rao, who taught journalism at Osmania University, Hyderabad, lakhs of young people are angry with the BRS-led government for cancelling eight TSPSC exams and for not even conducting the constables' exam properly. This is bound to affect the BRS in the upcoming elections, he felt.
“Lakhs of government job aspirants, after taking coaching for years and spending lakhs of rupees, have returned home to their villages after TSPSC cancelled or postponed exams recently. Imagine the disquiet it causes in the families. During his campaign, chief minister KCR appears to have noticed the seriousness of the problem in rural Telangana. So, now, KCR and his son are trying to appease them with new assurances,” Prof Rao told The Federal.
Stating that 30 lakh youth had registered their names with TSPSC, which effectively means 30 lakh families, Prof Rao said KCR may have belatedly picked up on the gravity of the issue.
However, the least talked about topic in the BRS Manifesto-2023 is the government sector jobs.
The unemployment allowance the BRS had promised in the 2018 election manifesto is missing in this election manifesto. Now, 30 days after the launch of the campaign, for the first time, government jobs have taken centrestage in the BRS campaign.
Congress takes the lead on jobs
Opposition parties, especially the Congress, have been more proactive on this front. Right from the start of their campaign, the party has made filling up government job vacancies as its central theme. In its manifesto, the Congress has assured to fill the 2 lakh job vacancies in the first year of its government.
AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi, while releasing the Youth Declaration in May 2023 asked the party workers to go to every household to circulate this guarantee to reassure the unemployed sons and daughters of the families.
Gaddala Mahender, Congress leader and campaigner for government jobs from Janagoan town attributes BRS’s sudden shift to making government jobs an election plank to Priyanka Gandhi’s jibe at KCR’s family.
Addressing a public meeting at Khanapur in north Telangana, Priyanka had asked the people not to give too many jobs to KCR’s family at the cost of "your sons and daughters". She was alluding to the presence of two ministers – an MLC and a Rajya Sabha member – from the KCR family in the state cabinet.
Opposition parties have popularised this as a ‘one family-five jobs’ catchphrase. “Rattled by Priyanka’s comments, in just 24 hours, both Chief Minister KCR and his son Ramarao have hurriedly promised the moon to unemployed youth,” he pointed out wryly.
To Hanumakonda Sridhar, a social worker from Warangal, the CM and the IT minister’s assurances to job aspirants seemed more like a “panic reaction”.
“Jobs, along with water and funds, make the three battle cries of the Telangana movement. In the ten years that have gone by, the government and the TSPSC have ruined the lives of unemployed youth,” he said.
Meanwhile, Osmania University and Kakatiya Universities (Warangal) students embarked on a campaign against the BRS government’s job policy.
These students, travelling across the state in two buses, are highlighting the BRS government’s inability to fill the vacancies in the past ten years. The yatra “Mission Nirudyogi” (Mission Unemployed) was launched on November 16 by Prof G Haragopal, a human rights activist and former Hyderabad Central University faculty member.
“Employment in the public sector was totally ignored by the government. In the past 10 years, the BRS government has neither issued enough notifications nor conducted the exams efficiently. There is a need to tell the people about the injustice meted out to the youth by the BRS government,” he said.
Eatala Rajender, BJP campaign committee president and KCR’s opponent in Gajwel, and BJP former president Bandi Sanjay, who is contesting from Karimnagar, are also trying to woo unemployed youth with the ‘job calendar’.
The unemployment issue is also being brought to the fore to the public by successful campaigns by candidates such as Dasari Usha, an IITian, who is the BSP candidate from Peddapalli. There is also Sirisha, an unemployed Dalit woman and a KCR’s critic, who is fighting as an independent candidate from Kollapur constituency, who has made it an electoral issue.