Updated: March 26, 2021 2:30:19 am
“Ya to humein LA (lab assistant) banao, nahin to hum MLA banenge,” says Arun Kumar Sharma, a father of two in his early forties.
Sharma is among the two candidates who have been fielded for the upcoming Rajasthan Assembly by-elections by the Rajasthan Berozgar Ekikrut Mahasangh, which describes itself as a platform to raise issues including those influencing the unemployed youth, regularisation of contractual workers and appointments in pending recruitments of the state government.
Now, in wake of non-fulfilment of its demands, the Mahasangh has said that it will campaign against the ruling Congress in the bypolls, ensuring the party’s defeat.
“Since the past seven years, I have been working as a contractual worker with the health department, earning around Rs 7,700 every month. On being regularised and selected as a lab assistant, my salary will increase to more than 20,000 each month. But despite being announced way back in 2013, and the government advertising for 1,534 posts of lab assistant in 2018, the recruitment is stuck,” says Sharma, who is the Mahasangh’s candidate for the by-elections in Sahara, Bhilwara district.
Sharma says that working in the frontlines, he collected samples from prospective Covid-19 patients last year and himself tested positive as well. He says the remuneration he gets as a contractual worker is too less.
Apart from Sharma, the Mahasangh has also fielded Tilokchand Meghwal from the Sujangarh seat in Churu district, which is reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates. Meghwal filed his nomination on Thursday.
“We have also kept in mind the caste equations while selecting our candidates. If the government doesn’t accept our demands, we will campaign against the Congress and will ensure that our candidates serve as vote cutters and harm the Congress’ electoral fortunes. We are visiting villages falling under the by-election seats and urging people to vote against Congress,” said Upen Yadav, president of the Rajasthan Berozgar Ekikrit Mahasangh.
Earlier this month, the Mahasangh visited and held meetings at the constituencies where the by-elections will take place. Although it has not fielded any candidate in Rajsamand, Yadav says they will campaign against the Congress there as well.
After a prolonged dharna of the Mahasangh last month, the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government had on February 23 constituted a ministerial committee to prepare a report on the issues raised by the body and to find ways to resolve them.
The major demands of the Mahasangh include appointments in nursing recruitment 2013, panchayati raj LDC recruitment, lab assistant recruitment, increase in the honorarium of contractual workers, the constitution of a ‘berozgar commission’ and a mechanism to check paper leaks and forged degrees.
Subhash Garg, Minister of state for Technical and Sanskrit Education and a member of the ministerial committee formed by the government said that the committee will meet soon to discuss the issues raised by the Mahasangh.
“The committee met for one time and the second meeting will take place in first week of April. The committee will decide which issues and demands can be solved and which cannot be solved,” Garg told The Indian Express on Thursday.
Apart from holding rallies for the by-elections, the Berozgar Mahasangh has also been organising the campaign ‘naukri nahin to vote nahin (no job, no vote),’ against the state government. The campaign is being organised on social media platforms such as Twitter as well.
“We are unemployed. We are not contesting to win. But if we don’t get government jobs, we will campaign against the Congress in the elections and make the politicians unemployed too,” said Yadav.
Shortly after coming into power, the Congress had from February 2019 started the Mukhyamantri Yuva Sambal Yojana scheme, under which unemployment allowance of Rs 3,000 to men and Rs, 3,500 to women, transgender and specially-abled people were paid. The allowance was for the educated unemployed in the state.
Recently, in reply to a question in the Assembly, the government said that the total number of unemployed people in the state holding different educational qualifications as of January 31 were more than 15 lakh and of these 12.2 lakh unemployed people were either graduates and post graduates.
The government data revealed that from February 1 2019 to December 1, 2020, a total of 2,49,433 people were paid the unemployment allowance and 1,59,113 people had availed the allowance in January 2021.
According to the data, 2,15,390 applications for unemployment allowance were pending. The government has an upper limit of 1,60,000 beneficiaries under the scheme, which will be increased to around 2 lakh from 2021-22, the state government has replied in the Assembly.
The by-elections will take place on April 17 and votes will be counted on May 2.
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