Yogendra Yadav, Swaraj India founder and its national president says that the unemployment rate in Haryana rose to 28.7 per cent, which is the highest in the country.
He said, “Swaraj India has started the "Main bhi berozgar" campaign in Haryana, under which party volunteers are travelling from village to village to reach out to the unemployed. He says they will come up with a concrete roadmap in the coming few days to get Haryana free from unemployment crisis. He said youth will give a befitting reply to the BJP, which has brought Haryana to this situation.
Yogendra, who hails from Rewari in Haryana, said he will not contest the assembly polls, instead work for the success of his candidates. He was a member of the National Executive of the Aam Aadmi Party until 2015 and also contested the 2014 General Election 2014 from Gurgoan constituency as an AAP candidate. He was ousted from the AAP in 2015. He is also founding member Jai Kisan Andoan.
In an exclusive interview with The Pioneer, Yogendra Yadav reveals his strategy for the upcoming Assembly polls. Excerpts from interview
Parties contest election with its manifesto. Why do you appeal to all parties to fight issue based election?
If you study previous elections, parties ask people for votes based on caste, religion and false promises. Parties use several illegal means to win elections. Relevant issues which concern the people disappear in this. Such practice is not healthy sign for democracy.
Instead of 'tu-tu-main-main' bickering and horse trading, there should be a meaningful debate on the issue of unemployment in this election, in which the BJP must provide answers and other parties come up with alternative solutions. Swaraj India has made unemployment the biggest election issue in the State today and Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar who ran the government for five years doesn't have any concrete answers. Opposition parties which until few days ago weren't even conscious that Haryana faces an issue of unemployment are now trying to follow on the footsteps of Swaraj India.”
Your party has entered the fray at a time when the BJP recently swept all 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana and has been making claims that it will win 75 plus assembly seats. How many seats you will win in the Assembly election?
The party has been allotted ''whistle'' as poll symbol by the Election Commission and I am putting my efforts to field candidates in all 90 assembly seats in Haryana. Party has already released first list of 9 candidates, including two women, for Haryana assembly elections. Everyone is saying this is the worst time to get into elections. But we think this is the best time because this is when people are looking for an alternative, a viable alternative which we will provide. There is complete vacuum in Haryana, every day you hear of MLAs running away to BJP, every other day parties are disintegrating, Congress is fighting more against each other. My party will issue an ''Imanpatra'' with concrete policy proposals instead of election manifesto. Swaraj India is the only party in the country to appoint a Lokpal for careful selection of candidates. If any complaint is received against our candidate regarding corruption, character, criminality, communalism, it will not be probed by our party or screening committee, but by the Lokpal, who will not be a member of our party. We will ourselves appeal the people not to vote for our candidate even if a complaint comes barely 24 hours before the polls and if the Lokpal finds any truth in it. We are not going into the business of number of seats. We do not have the money to win the election, but we have the character and courage needed to fight the polls. And rest is upto the people.
How do you assess five years of BJP government in Haryana?
I am raising issues which are relevant to the people. The law and order situation in Haryana has worsened under BJP rule. Distressed farmers were waiting for justice and hike in minimum support price. The youth are jobless and Haryana is among those states where unemployment rate is quite high.
Eight of the nine candidates named have Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) background, a party which you too were a part of earlier. Your comment
We will welcome good people who are still associated with the AAP to join us, but we are not going to force anyone. We do not need 'kuchra' (dirt) from that party.
Why have you cancelled the candidature of one of your candidate?
The party has cancelled the candidature of Saroj Bala, from Gannaur assembly constituency of Sonipat because the candidate’s view was to distribute liquor during election campaign which is against our ideology.
Election Commission appeals to the political parties not to use plastic, polythene in election material. Your comment
We appreciate EC’s move and parties should implement it effectively. But there are many issues like illegal use of liquor, money power among others being used by the political voters to woo the voters during the election. That should also be implemented strictly by the ECI in the election.
BJP leaders say the BJP-led government has provided more than 50,000 government jobs. Besides, new industries are coming to Haryana which will create more jobs. Why do you say all opposition parties to raise unemployment as a main poll issue?
The state was at number one in unemployment rate despite the state government’s claims of providing jobs. Haryana is facing serious unemployment problem, according to the figures compiled by Centre for Monitoring India Economy (CMIE), as it has nearly three times more unemployment rate than the national average. As the national average stood at 8.4 per cent, the state’s unemployment rate reached the all time high since January 2016. The unemployment rate in Haryana rose to 28.7 per cent in August 2019, which is highest in the country, followed by Tripura 27.9 per cent and Himachal Pradesh 19.2 per cent. More people are seeking employment but not as many people are finding employment. These unemployment figures may be unwelcome news for the five year old Manohar Lal Khattar government. Khattar must answer the public on the question of unemployment and other political parties must also come up with alternative solutions.
And sad reality of joblessness is visible in the state for the ongoing tests of Haryana SSC. There are around 15 lakh applicants for 4858 posts of clerks advertised by HSSC.
Over 20 lakh unemployed and an unemployment rate of 28.7 per cent clearly prove that Khattar Government misled the citizens of Haryana on the issue of employment.
BJP and Congress have made criteria of giving ticket to winnable candidates. How will you distribute ticket to the candidates?
The idea behind forming the party and contesting the election was to give honest and good political representatives (an opportunity), who do not run after money, but are honest and committed workers. We have decided to give one-third seats to women and one-third to the youth.
You started election campaign around two months ago. According to you, what are the issues that will be raised in the Assembly elections?
We are going to focus on five issues - agrarian distress, remunerative prices to the farmers, unemployment relief for educated unemployed youth and we want a law which would ensure no liquor vend can be opened unless women of that Gram Sabha approve of it. For the unorganised sector workers, better wages and more secure better quality environment will be on top of our agenda.
According to BJP leaders, CM Manohar Lal Khattar’s ‘Jan Aashirwad Yatra’ was successful. What’s your take?
It's ironic that on one hand, Haryana has become the number 1 state in the country whereas on the other hand, Khattar, who has pushed the state into darkness, is out to seek blessings by carrying out ‘Jan Aashirwad Rally’. The CM instead should take out a ‘repentance’ rally for not honouring BJP’s poll promises made ahead of the last assembly elections.
Who will be chief ministerial face from your party?
Swaraj India will not project any face for the polls. I am not going to make false statement. I am not in a position to form the government but projecting the outfit as a viable alternative to BJP. We do not want to make tall claims of winning, but want to give a strong and good opposition, where we find there is a vacuum in the state today. Swaraj India is here to tread its own path and present a credible opposition.
For the last few months, there has been report of economic slowdown, job loss, shortage of employment opportunity among others. What’s your take?
There is an economic slowdown and it is undeniable, but the government is still not willing to acknowledge it formally. For three quarters our GDP has been coming down, consumer expenditure is coming down in every possible sector, we know more about auto industry. There is a discussion about cotton. But we need to remember that even FMCG in rural areas that's coming down, things like biscuits consumption is coming down, that's surely a sign of slowdown. The central government can address the economic slowdown only when it acknowledges that the problem exists. You can begin to address the slowdown only when you acknowledge that it exists. There is an unwillingness to acknowledge. The slowdown can be handled only if one has the correct indicators. Sadly, for the first time in the history of independent India, our key statistical indicators are under question mark.