Priyanka Gandhi vows job creation if voted to power in Himachal Pradesh
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said thousands of posts were lying vacant while people were unable to find jobs
Kicking off the Congress’s campaign in Himachal Pradesh, senior leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Friday reiterated her party’s promise of 500,000 jobs in the state if voted to power and exhorted state unit leaders to remain united in the run up to the assembly elections scheduled for November 12.
Speaking at the ‘Parivartan Pratigya Rally’ in Solan, she hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) governments at in the state and Centre over the issues of unemployment, inflation and pensions.
“In the last five years, the BJP government has done nothing for the people of the state. Today, employees are sitting on protest demanding their right to a pension, but no government representative has even bothered to meet them,” she said.
“They (BJP) cry shortage of funds when it comes to restoring pensions, but waive off loans worth thousands of crores of their capitalist friends and sell public sector units to them,” she added.
The employees recruited in Himachal after May 2003, who come under New Pension Scheme have been demanding restoration of OPS. The New Pension Scheme Employees’ Association has started a chain hunger strike in the state. Priyanka Gandhi met the members of the association who were sitting at the protest.
Raking up the issue of unemployment, Gandhi said thousands of posts were lying vacant while people were unable to find jobs.
“If voted to power, Congress will give 5 lakh jobs to the youth in the state — one lakh in the government sector,” said Gandhi.
“Today, under the BJP regime, the youth of Himachal who are well-educated cannot hope for a decent job, while more than 63,000 posts are lying vacant in government departments,” she added.
She also raised the issue of the police constable recruitment exam paper leak and the alleged irregularities in recruitment for university posts.
Gandhi reiterated the guarantees given by the Congress to the people of Himachal on September 1 — including the restoration of OPS, 500,000 jobs in five years and a monthly allowance of ₹1,500 to women, among others.
“Our prime focus will be on providing jobs to youth,” she said, adding that if voted to power, her party’s government would ensure a 70% quota for the state’s youth in jobs generated from industries set up in the state.
Gandhi also touched on the state’s electoral trend of voting out the incumbent government each time. Several top BJP leaders have claimed that the party would break this ‘rivaaz (tradition)’ this time.
“The BJP talks about changing the tradition but they have already changed it and instead of giving to the public, they are snatching away,” Gandhi said.
Raking up another contentious issue, Gandhi said that instead of giving respect to brave soldiers guarding the borders of the country, the government brought the Agnipath scheme under which army jobs will be given on contract without any provision of pension.
She said that the people of Himachal were fed up with BJP rule and wanted a change in the state.
“I also urge you (Congress leaders sitting on the dais), to be united and fight elections collectively to ensure Congress’ victory,” she said, indirectly telling the party leaders to shun infighting.
Striking an emotional chord, Gandhi said her grandmother, former PM Indira Gandhi, had a spiritual connection with Himachal Pradesh. “I built my house in Mashobra to fulfil her wish as she wanted a house in the hills after retiring from politics,” said Gandhi.
Before the rally, Gandhi visited the Shoolini Mata temple and also met government employees who are on strike for restoration of the old pension scheme.
The state BJP hit out at Gandhi’s remarks terming her rally a “nukad sabha (local level meet)”.
State BJP chief Suresh Kashyap said: “The Parivartan Pratigya Rally’ cannot be called a rally in any sense as common people hardly showed any enthusiasm. There will definitely be a change in the state, but it will be in the Congress leadership.”
The election commission (EC) on Friday announced the schedule for Himachal Pradesh assembly polls. The notification will be issued on October 17 and the polls will be held on November 12. The counting of votes will take place on December 8.
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