BJP hopes on ‘Brand Modi’ to bury unemployment ghost

PM Narendra Modi at council of ministers meeting (Image credit PMO)

PM Narendra Modi at council of ministers meeting (Image credit PMO)

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Modi had promised 1 crore jobs in Agra rally in 2013

By Manish Anand

New Delhi, March 29: Ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the then prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Narendra Modi had promised one crore jobs annually. His election rally in Agra in Uttar Pradesh had set the tone for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. His war cry was against the jobless economy. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the villain who oversaw a jobless growth in the economy.

Economic commentator Neelkanth Mishra claims: “There are 15 million more surplus workers in the economy than before the pandemic.” In an article in the Economic Times, Mishra argued, “Labour share of national income appears to be falling”.

By Mishra’s account, the Indian economy has added 1.5 crore more unemployed in the workforce. This is in addition to the level existing before the Covid-19, he added. Indeed, it was almost blasphemous to speak of unemployment. ‘You are alive; is that not enough’ was the argument hammered to a critical voice.

The Indian Express in an Editorial said: “There are worrying signs that call for closer examination”. The comment was made in the backdrop of the daily giving an account of unemployment.

Former Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav is pulling strong crowds. His sole poll template is that his ministry in the Nitish Kumar government created lakhs of teachers’ jobs. Until he joined hands with the BJP, Kumar often said: “We indeed do what we promise unlike others who sell dreams and forget”: His refrain was clearly on Modi.

The Congress is promising to fill over 30 lakh vacancies in various government departments. The staffers of the Central Secretariat had been holding demonstrations in front of the North Block and the South Block to press for a host of demands. Positions in the Central government are not being filled with regular jobs. There are consultants aplenty.

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The India Employment Report 2024 claims: “Two-thirds of the increase in the employment consisted of the self-employed.” Modi had hailed ‘Pakoda wallas’ in his first term for the advent of self-employed generation. The report was prepared by the International Labour Organisation and the Institute of Human Development. It portrays a sorry picture on the employment front.

“Labour participation in agriculture has gone up,” said the report. This is worrying. The report noted: “Employment in the manufacturing sector remains stagnant.”

The ‘Make in India’ slogan is panting for breath. The voluble Amitabh Kant, the slogan writer of the Modi government, is now struggling for an audience.

For the BJP, Modi is an answer to all the political challenges. The master tactician in the past deftly deflected political body-liners. He took defence in his OBC background, post-Pulwama bashing of Pakistan, and most importantly by bloating the unsuitability image of his main rival, Rahul Gandhi, the former president of the Congress.

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