Apparently in the eye of the storm over 'flawed recruitments' in the state transport corporation with the opposition and people in his own government gunning for him, transport minister GS Bali on Tuesday put on a show of strength at his home-turf, Nagrota Bagwan, as thousands from the constituency and adjoining districts rallied behind him.
Having mastered the art of drawing crowd, Bali, once again raking the issue of unemployment, took the occasion to hit out at the detractors, simultaneously hinting that he might easily 'quit' as a minister and resume his 'movement' for jobless youth.
As the title Rojgar Lakshya rally depicts, Bali made a clarion call to his constituents, particularly the youth, to be prepared for another yatra for their rights, while senior minster Vidya Stokes, disgruntled chief parliamentary secretary Rajesh Dharmani and Kangra MLA Pawan Kajal were present on the occasion.
“I had a choice of either living an easy life or making my own path, which of course is difficult. I chose the second one and have served the people with dedication,” Bali said at the beginning of his speech.
Bali said if he could stop the use of the government vehicle, he would not hesitate to quit any post to fight for the cause of poor and unemployed.
Indirectly hitting out at his rivals in the cabinet, Bali said he was not among those leaders who switched off their phones after becoming ministers.
“I have and will continue to fight for the cause of downtrodden and unemployed,” Bali said, adding that he could give up anything when it came to raise voices of jobless and poor.
With people within the party on his line of fire, Bali said none from his family was doing a government job nor were they strive for chairmanship of the board. The minister had former minister and MP Chander Kumar on target as he evoked the OBC card stating that some people had tried to divide the community, while scouting for a post in the government.
“Some people misuse their powers,” Bali said, adding, “I suggest them to change with the changing year.”
Though, the minister refrained from commenting on allegations of irregularities in recruitment of transport multipurpose assistants (TMPAs), he said some people instead of serving the poor were trying to rob youth off their job and livelihood.
Coming to the issue of unemployment, Bali said the number of jobless youth in the state had crossed over 10 lakh mark.
“Before the Congress government was formed two years back in the state, I was fighting for the unemployed and will still continue to struggle for the cause,” Bali said, maintaining that some reasons forced him to organise this rally.
He claimed that it was his efforts that Congress included skill development allowance in its poll manifesto, which till now had benefited an army of 60,000 educated, unemployed youth.
Resolving to raise the voice of unemployed at every level, Bali said he would urge chief minister Virbhadra Singh to hold special cabinet meet once a month to review the number of jobless and make efforts to bring it down. Bali also added that the Kangra district would remain one unit and earlier also the attempts to split it had fallen flat.
Meanwhile, while addressing the rally, Stokes and Dharmani hailed Bali for his pro-poor approach, his work as a minister and development that he brought in his constituency.
They also termed the allegations against Bali (on recruitment issue) as baseless and demanded an inquiry into the appointments that took place during the BJP regime.
Earlier, over 500 Youth Congress workers accompanied the minister on the 5-km route to the venue in rally shape.