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NSUI workers fry ‘pakoras’ to target centre over lack of jobs

NSUI members selling pakoras in Bengaluru on Tuesday. Photo: PTI

NSUI members selling pakoras in Bengaluru on Tuesday. Photo: PTI

Bengaluru: The National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the Congress party, on Tuesday protested against the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government by frying pakoras in Bengaluru to highlight the lack of jobs in the country.

Modi suggested in a recent television interview that a person earning Rs200 a day by selling pakoras (fritters) is employed in his view.

The protest against Modi is part of the ruling Congress party’s new strategy to challenge the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over its record at the centre ahead of assembly elections in Karnataka due later this year.

“No doubt the Prime Minister is a popular man. But people will compare the achievements of the state government with those of the centre. Whatever promises Modiji made, before and after the parliamentary elections, have not been fulfilled. Demonetization and the new tax regime (goods and services tax) have totally failed,” Siddaramaiah told the Hindustan Times in an interview published on Tuesday.

On issues ranging from job creation to social justice and progressive policies, the Siddaramaiah-led government has gone beyond challenging the state unit of the BJP to confronting Modi and the Gujarat model of development with his Navakarnataka Nirmana (building new Karnataka) campaign. In the process, Siddaramaiah has spared no opportunity to mock the BJP’s “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” development slogan. His Twitter posts have praised the performance of the state government in comparison to the Modi-led government at the centre as well as the 2008-2013 BJP government in Karnataka, which saw three CMs take turns to run the government.

Siddaramaiah claims that his government has created 1.5 million jobs in the last four years, and that unemployment in the state has been brought down to about 2%, compared to national average of 3.7%, according to a 3 January report in The New Indian Express.

Karnataka also accounted for 19% of all foreign direct (FDI) inflow into the country in the first two quarters of the current fiscal year compared to 1.65% that Gujarat received, according to Reserve Bank of India data.

As one of the few states still ruled by the Congress, the BJP has turned all its attention to Karnataka. It’s also the last big state heading to polls before Modi’s government heads to elections in 2019.

Karnataka, one of the highest contributors to information technology (IT) exports in the country, is also a hub for other sectors including biotechnology, start-ups, e-commerce and aviation.

“The Karnataka government seems to be in an advantage in terms of the number of jobs created here compared to the claims made by Modi,” Kshithij Urs, a public policy analyst and professor at the National Law School of India, Bengaluru said, citing Siddaramaiah’s opposition to privatization in favour of protecting jobs.

In September last year, Siddaramaiah wrote to the centre seeking a review of the central government’s decision to sell public sector rail coach and construction equipment maker BEML Ltd, which has over 8,000 employees and at least nine manufacturing units across Karnataka.

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