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‘Dummy accounts’ row: Gehlot govt’s Rajiv Gandhi scheme rollout hits Opp, youth wall

The Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government’s fledgling internship programme has landed in controversy after an alleged letter got leaked on social media wherein the scheme’s beneficiaries are reportedly being asked to create “dummy” social media accounts.

Written by Deep Mukherjee | Jaipur |
August 6, 2022 2:36:02 pm
ashok gehlotThe Ashok Gehlot government has termed the letter leaked on social media as “fake”, suspended the official whose name was mentioned in the purported letter and has written to the police to lodge an FIR in the case. (Express file photo)

In February last year, during his 2021-22 Budget speech in the Rajasthan Assembly, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced that 2,500 “Rajiv Gandhi Yuva Mitras” will be selected across the state to spread awareness among the public about the state government’s welfare schemes and to take up people’s various grievances with the administration.

But right from its launch this month, the Gehlot-led Congress government’s fledgling internship programme has landed in controversy after an alleged letter got leaked on social media wherein the scheme’s beneficiaries are reportedly being asked to create “dummy” Twitter and Facebook accounts.

While the Gehlot government has termed the letter as “fake”, suspended the official whose name was mentioned in the purported letter and has written to the police to lodge an FIR in the case, the principal Opposition BJP, which during its rule in the state had constantly faced attacks from the Congress for naming various government schemes after the Sangh Parivar ideologues such as Deendayal Upadhyaya, is unwilling to let go of the opportunity to pay back in kind.

“Every party has their own ideas about how to run their shop and publicise among the public. Nobody will have any objection if they do this at the party level. But by making the government as a medium and using public exchequer to promote the party is not right,” senior BJP leader and Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the state Assembly, Gulab Chand Kataria, told The Indian Express. Kataria charged that the Gehlot government’s Rajiv Gandhi Yuva Mitra internship programme was meant to serve a political purpose for the Congress, which has currently been banking on a public outreach to retain power in the 2023 Assembly elections — not an easy feat in a state where traditionally, the incumbent government is voted out every five years.

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As per the proforma for the statement of purpose required to be attached with the application form while applying for the internship scheme, the questions an applicant has to answer include “What are your thoughts about various government schemes being implemented by the Government of Rajasthan, why do you want to join this programme, brief introduction of social work (if done any), how can social media be used for spreading awareness about government scheme among people, and what are your expectations from this internship programme?”

According to Om Prakash Bairwa, director cum joint secretary, Department of Economics and Statistics, the internship is for a duration of six months and those selected will be paid Rs 15,000 per month. He pointed out that following the Budget announcement last year, the internship scheme finally started this month. The interviews for the programme were conducted in April this year.

While in recent years, the Gehlot government has had to face several protests from unemployed youth over pending recruitments to vacant government posts, the organisations that spearheaded these protests also do not seem to be impressed by the Rajiv Gandhi Yuva Mitra internship programme.

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“The internship scheme is for appointing the government’s own people. Why isn’t the government instead fulfilling its promise to provide 1 lakh government jobs in vacant posts?” said Upen Yadav, the Rajasthan Berozgar Ekikrut Mahasangh (RBEM) president.

After the letter that has been claimed as “fake” by the government went viral on social media Thursday and the official concerned was suspended, state BJP president Satish Poonia took a jibe at Gehlot, tweeting: “Kare koi (Ashok Gehlot), bhare koi (karamchari), Arey! Ghabrai sarkar gazab teri lachari, roye janta bechari (Someone does it [Ashok Gehlot], someone else pays [employees], Oh! Government on backfoot, your helplessness is incredible, public is crying).”

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First published on: 06-08-2022 at 02:36:02 pm

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