More than two years after promising unemployment allowance, the TRS government is gearing up to formulate a scheme as it seeks to check BJP, which is going aggressive in its attacks on the ruling party over unfulfilled promises.
Despite a big drop in revenue due to Covid induced lockdown and consequent slowdown, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government is contemplating to roll out unemployment allowance soon.
TRS working president and minister for industry, information technology, municipal administration and urban development K.T. Rama Rao stated a couple of days ago that Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao is likely to announce an unemployment allowance in the next few days.
“The Chief Minister, in a day or two, may make an announcement on the unemployment allowance,” said KTR, as the chief minister’s son is popularly known.
KTR said the government would soon release a notification for the recruitment to 50,000 posts in the state government. He assured the youth that KCR will bestow more than what they had expected from him.
The move is surprising given the impact the fall on revenue may have on the overall budget size and a plethora of welfare schemes already being implemented by the state.
However, this appears to be a political compulsion for TRS at a time when BJP is going all out to attack the ruling party for failing to fulfill the promises made in 2018 elections.
Political analysts say with BJP going aggressive as part of its goal to come to power in the state 2023, TRS is making swift moves to check the saffron surge.
Only last month, Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao had announced that notifications would be issued shortly to fill up vacancies of teachers, police personnel and others.
“The primary information suggests that there are about 50,000 vacancies in the state in several departments. We have to fill them up. Teachers and police have to be recruited in thousands,” he had said.
Two major announcements in as many months apparently came to placate unemployed youth, whose anger is believed to be one of the key reasons for the electoral reverses suffered by TRS in recent weeks.
In by-election to Dubbak Assembly constituency held in November, TRS suffered a shocking defeat at the hands of BJP which focused on youth and the unfulfilled promises of the ruling party.
The angry youth turned the tide as the BJP wrested the seat from TRS. It was seen as an anti-incumbency vote. It was a big jolt to TRS as the party had never lost a by-election since 2014 when it came to power in the newly created state.
After Dubbak victory, the BJP also made considerable inroads in TRS vote bank by winning 48 seats in 150-member Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), elections for which were held in December. It was an impressive show for BJP which had won only four seats in 2016 elections.
BJP, which emerged as the second largest party in GHMC, denied clear majority to TRS and sent a strong message again that it is emerging as the viable alternative to TRS.
A week after the results of GHMC polls, the chief minister announced filling up of vacancies in the government. He asked Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar to collect details about the vacant posts in teachers, police and other departments and issue notifications to fill the vacancies.
“TRS is under extreme pressure from the youth and unemployed sections of the society, along with those who are working in the government. Results in Dubbak and GHMC elections are an indication of the mood of people in the state,” said political analyst P. Raghavendra Reddy.
He, however, believes that unemployment allowance will act like a painkiller for the short-term but it is not the solution for the problems in Telangana, especially of the youth. The KCR government will have seriously think about filling vacant posts in the government, and create more employment opportunities through self-employment and in the private sector.
“The BJP is making use of and gaining ground due to the feeling among the people of being neglected by the TRS government. Unemployment allowance could help prevent the ground from slipping away temporarily, but KCR and KTR must think of more long-term and impactful measure to regain lost political turf,” said Reddy.
In the manifesto for 2018 Assembly elections, the TRS had promised unemployment allowance. The party promises that the unemployed youth will get a monthly payment of Rs 3,016 till they get a job.
The party made the promise as the youth were voicing their anger over the government’s failure to deliver on the promise of one lakh jobs. TRS had come under criticism from students for failing the youth who fought for separate Telangana state. The party, however, retained power with a massive majority.
In the vote on account budget for 2019-20 tabled by the chief minister himself in February 2019, Rs 1,810 crore was earmarked for the unemployment allowance. However, the scheme was never formulated and it found no mention in 2020-21 budget, apparently due to fall in revenue growth rate.
It is still not clear how the government will implement the scheme when it may find difficult to mobilize the resources for continuing the existing welfare schemes like social security pensions, free electricity, financial assistance to farmers, health insurance to poor and scholarships.
The chief minister is likely to appoint a panel of senior officials to formulate the scheme and its guidelines. All eyes will be on the allocation to be made in the budget for 2021-22.
There is still no clarity on the number of unemployed in the state. Nearly 10 lakh candidates have registered with employment exchanges of the state government.
Over 20 lakh people candidates have registered with Telangana State Public Service Commission (TSPSC) for government jobs.
Even if the unemployed youth are estimated at 10 lakh, the government will have to earmark Rs 3,600 crore in the budget.
Some sections of unemployed are already demanding that the scheme be implemented with retrospective effect from December 2018.
There is already a war of words going on between the government and the opposition over the former’s claim on jobs provided during last six years.
KTR claimed that 1.31 lakh people were recruited since 2014. This includes 36,000 youth recruited through Telangana State Public Service Commission.
He claimed that 14.50 lakh job opportunities were provided to the youth through 14,000 companies given permissions under TSiPASS, the industrial policy under which new industries are given all permission in 14 days.
The Congress party challenged the KTR to prove his claims of recruitment of 1.31 lakh people by the government and. All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary A. Sampath Kumar dared the minister for a debate on the issue.
The Congress leader alleged that it was another ploy by the TRS to mislead youth ahead of elections to two seats of Telangana Legislative Council from graduates constituencies.
Elections to graduates constituencies of Mahabubnagar-Hyderabad-Rangareddy and Warangal-Nalgonda-Khammam are likely to be held in February.