The Bharatiya Janata Party, which came to power on the mantra of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” to lead a coalition government in Tripura completed its first year in office on 9 March. According to Chief Minister Biplab Deb, Tripura is on the path towards becoming a model state. One of the major issues, which BJP promised to solve, was unemployment. However, after one year of rule, it seems the BJP has failed to curb the burning issue of Tripura unemployment.
The data compiled by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy lucidly indicates that the employment scenario continues to be on a sticky wicket. The CMIE data of February 2019 puts the Tripura unemployment rate at 26.1 per cent, which is the highest in the country. It is to be mentioned that during February 2018, the last month of the Left government, the percentage of unemployment was 30.2 per cent, which was again the highest in the country.
The CMIE data of February this year compared to February last year points out that there has been a 4.1 per cent reduction and this may be seen as a small achievement of the BJP government. However, this is the other side of the picture. Only in March and April 2018, Tripura didn’t feature as the state with the highest percentage of unemployment in the country. But for the later months, barring July, till the latest report of February, Tripura registered the most number of unemployed people in India. In September, the unemployment percentage rose to 39.1 per cent — the highest within a year. In October and November, the percentage was more than 30 per cent. These figures clearly show that the Deb-led BJP government has failed to curb rising unemployment in the state, which was the main election issue highlighted by the saffron party during its Assembly election campaign.
The CMIE data of Tripura is available from September 2017. In that year, Tripura’s unemployment was the highest in India at 19.4 per cent. For the later three months — October, November and December — the percentage was reduced to 8.5, 8.2 and 13.2, respectively. Unemployment again rose to 31.2 and 30.2 per cent respectively in January and February 2019. So, it means that during the Left era, Tripura was not always the state with the highest percentage of unemployed in the country.
The state government’s dramatic decision in August last year of cancelling ongoing recruitment raised eyebrows about its seriousness to control the issue of joblessness. The order included cancellations of exams that were to be held under the Tripura Public Service Commission, which affected around 14,000 candidates. Many alleged that the decision was mainly political rather than administrative as it cancelled the recruitment earlier initiated by the CPM-led Left government. There were allegations that by cancelling the TPSC recruitment, the BJP government was trying to dictate an autonomous body.
Also, interviews taken under the monitoring of High Court of Tripura in January 2018 for the Tripura Civil Services and Tripura Police Services were cancelled by the state government inviting more criticism.
Recently, as mentioned by a leading media wire of Tripura, the High Court in the state has issued a show cause notice to the government questioning it about the cancellation of the recruitment drive for filling up 838 posts of male constables. The decision of the High Court came after four writ petitions by the job aspirants, who had qualified for the posts in 2017.
In the writ petitions, they stated that they were qualified for the posts but due to the declaration of the Assembly polls, the police authority couldn’t release letters of offer. However, the new government cancelled the entire process of interviews.
Last year, in August, a news daily of the state reported that the Left government was ready with a list of around 2,000 candidates for the Tripura State Rifles and Tripura Police but that couldn’t be released due to the declaration of the Assembly elections. Later, the recruitment process was again done away with by the new BJP government.
Also, there have been allegations against the BJP government of limiting the vacant posts of the Teachers’ Eligibility Test. As local media reported, the present government declared only 180 vacant posts for TET-I, against the advertisements of 6,422 vacant posts done by the previous Left government. In case of TET-II, the number of vacant posts declared by the CPM government was 1,470. But the new government recruited only 319 teachers. Last year, Deb in an interview to a national daily, had spoken of creating 700,000 jobs within 30 months. But after the completion of 12 months, the ground situation presents a gloomy picture regarding jobs.
Curbing unemployment in the state was the major election promise of BJP. However, the BJP government seems to have failed to control joblessness in the state with the percentage of unemployment even higher under its rule. Tripura is still figuring as the state with the most number of unemployed in the country. These facts question the seriousness of the BJP government in solving the most burning issue of the state.
(The writer is a Tripura-based freelance contributor)