'Modi ka Guarantee': BJP in Rajasthan cancels 1 lakh jobs as New Year dawns

The new government has just reversed the recruitment of 50,000 Mahatma Gandhi Seva Preraks, announced the state's Peace and Non-Violence Department

Former Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot of the Congress (L) had warned a BJP govt would end its welfare schemes, despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's (R) 'guarantee' in the assembly poll campaign to continue them (image: National Herald archives)
Former Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot of the Congress (L) had warned a BJP govt would end its welfare schemes, despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's (R) 'guarantee' in the assembly poll campaign to continue them (image: National Herald archives)

NH Political Bureau

So much for 'Modi ka guarantee' that the previous Congress-led Rajasthan state government's successful welfare schemes would continue to be taken forward if the Bharatiya Janata Party won the assembly polls.

Yesterday, 26 December, the peace and non-violence department of the now BJP-led state government cancelled the recruitment of 50,000 Mahatma Gandhi Seva Preraks as part of a scheme initiated by the previous dispensation.

Barely a month in office, the newly elected BJP government has been actively dismantling the previous dispensation's work, it would seem.

On Monday, 25 December, chief minister Bhajan Lal Sharma also closed down the Rajiv Gandhi Yuva Mitra Internship Scheme (RGYMIS)—a flagship scheme from the previous Ashok Gehlot government to offer hands-on work experience to new graduates. It had another 50,000 youths enrolled under it, earning stipends up to Rs 10,000 a month.

A rueful Gehlot has wondered why the BJP could not simply change the names of the successful and well-received schemes, as it is wont to do as its election plank countrywide, instead of shutting them down entirely.

He took to social media yesterday, posting on X to remind prime minister Narendra Modi that he had reassured citizens in the run-up to the polls that even if the BJP won, the previous government's schemes would not be cancelled, and noting the citizens were now doubtful about the Old Pension Scheme being brought back as well.

The Mahatma Gandhi Seva Prerak scheme, budgeted for by the Gehlot government for 2023–24, was announced on 13 August as a one-year contract to the motivators recruited under it to propagate non-violence and other Gandhian principles, for a stipend of Rs 4,500 per month.

This announcement to open up recruitment was made ahead of Independence Day, so about 2 months before the model code of conduct came into effect ahead of the recent Rajasthan assembly elections.

However, in September, a petition was brought before the High Court, alleging that the scheme was created purely for electoral gains and constituted a misuse of the public's money. The court, in its wisdom, decided the recruitment could continue but no appointment letter was to be issued.

Then, with the model code of conduct initiated, the recruitment drive was put on ice—until now, with the new BJP government cancelling the scheme entirely.

Speaking on the shutdown of the RGYMIS the day before, Gehlot also spoke of hearsay that treatments under the Congress government's Chiranjeevi Yojana were being refused. He suggested that the BJP should make haste to announce its actual cabinet, which is still pending, to keep the voters' shaken faith.

Unemployment in the state had been a fraught topic ahead of the Assembly elections, and like in the rest of the country—headed into general elections early in 2024—remains a concern. So it seems a surprising move for the BJP to actively close down employment opportunities in the state.

In October, answering a question raised in the Vidhan Sabha, the Gehlot administration had said that the state had 1,840,044 people registered as unemployed as of 21 February, out of which 1,440,916 were graduates and at least 101,956 had pursued further education.

This made Rajasthan unemployment rate the second-highest in the country, at 28.5 per cent, right after its BJP-governed neighbour Haryana (37.4 per cent), according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy figures from January 2023. 

While the recently shelved RGYMIS scheme was created well before this count (in 2021), the Gehlot government had also initiated in March 2023 the Rajasthan Berojgari Bhatta Yojana, which provided a monthly financial assistance of Rs 3,500 and skill development training to the unemployed.

Clearly, a different set of guidelines—non-Gandhian—must be the current 'double-engine' BJP government's leading light if they would prefer to shut down options for the unemployed, however modest they may be, in this context.

Citizens can only hope the actions are backed by planned alternatives. They are surely curious about prime minister Narendra Modi's 'guarantee' barely a month ago of the BJP creating 50,000 new jobs a month—and 2.5 lakh over five years.

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