Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Unemployment the major poll issue this year

With Lok Sabha elections just around the corner, the political parties are gearing up for the election campaigning. With the opposition parties tightening the noose around the BJP-led central government, opposition parties are not leaving any stone unturned when it comes to targeting the Modi government.

Whether it be scams, national security or farmers distress the opposition parties have gathered all its weapons together to counter the Modi government.  The main issue of ‘unemployment’ keeps on coming up every time. It’s true that the Modi government was able to boast about creating 2 crore jobs per year but haven’t been able to do that. After its Rs 15 lakh jumla, people have started thinking was the Rs 1 crore jobs per year guarantee was a jumla too?

The numbers of unemployment are worrying, the unemployment rate in India rose to 7.2% in February 2019, the highest since September 2016, and up from 5.9% in February 2018, according to data compiled by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). The figures will be unwelcome news for Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of a general election, but the concerns about weak farm prices and low jobs growth are often brought up as election issues by opposition parties. When the government has released official data for the jobless rate in the past it has tended to be out-of-date. But recently it withheld a batch of data because officials said they needed to check its veracity. The figures that were withheld in December were leaked to a local newspaper a few weeks ago, and showed that India’s unemployment rate rose to its highest level in at least 45 years in 2017/18.

The leaked NSSO data reported by Business Standard suggesting that unemployment is at a “45-year high”. A CMIE report released in January said nearly 11 million people lost jobs in 2018 after the demonetisation of high value notes in late 2016 and the chaotic launch of a new goods and services tax in 2017, hit millions of small businesses. The government told Parliament last month that it did not have data on the impact of demonetisation on jobs in small businesses.

Due to rising numbers of unemployment rates, the youths in country were forced to come out on streets and protest. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi had another solution for the jobless. In January 2018, he stated that street food vendors (selling pakodas) should also be considered in employment statistics and hence unemployment in the country is actually much lower than statistically reported. This added to the woes of the unemployed youths which led to ‘Pakodanomics’, which was used as a light-hearted reference to the economic policies of the government.

Modiji’s idea that highly qualified unemployed youth should open a pakoda shop rather than asking for the government for jobs, has become a big bone of contention in BJP’s re-election in 2019. But regardless of this jab, the country is still facing massive joblessness with the Congress and Opposition piling pressure on the Modi government over unemployment rate.

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