New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal made governance or distribution of freebies his core election plank, but there is one issue he and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) persistently avoided — the party’s 2015 poll promise of giving eight lakh jobs.
“AAP will create eight lakh new jobs in the next five years,” the party had said before the 2015 elections.
The AAP’s manifesto for 2020 election doesn’t talk about jobs at all.
Sources in the AAP said at the time of preparing the 2015 election manifesto, Kejriwal had wanted to promise 15 lakh jobs but Yogendra Yadav, who resigned from the party later, had opposed it, asking how the party could make such a tall promise without even assessing the wherewithal required for this.
Kejriwal had sought to mollify him, arguing that the AAP had to be practical and such promises had to be made to do politics, sources added.
Yadav had, however, stuck to his guns but Kejriwal went ahead and made the promise of eight lakh jobs in its manifesto, only to completely forget about it during the next five years.
In the 2020 election, therefore, the AAP chose not to talk about jobs, which would trigger a debate on its 2015 promise.
The opposition BJP, under attack from the Congress at the centre for the worst unemployment in four decades, also chose not to take up the job issue with the AAP.
Absence of jobs from the 2020 manifesto is ironic
Earlier this week, the AAP released its manifesto for the 2020 elections, which stated how it will continue giving 200 units of free electricity, Mohalla marshals to “ensure a safer Delhi for women” and 24×7 clean water to every resident of the national capital.
In 2015, the AAP’s vision document had 70 promises. The 2020 manifesto has less than half of it — 28 promises.
The absence of job promise from the 2020 manifesto is ironic given how often Kejriwal has talked about unemployment.
Questioning the necessity for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Kejriwal had said last month: “It says that even Hindus will have to leave the country if they don’t have identity documents for themselves and their parents… The economy is down and the unemployment rate is high. Our children don’t have jobs and houses. They (central government) say they will bring in two crore Hindus from Pakistan, where will they be settled?”
In December last year, speaking at the News18 India Chaupal on the CAA, Kejriwal had asked who would give jobs to the “crores of people” who will come from neighbouring countries at a time when Indians themselves are struggling for employment.
While addressing a rally in March this year ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, Kejriwal had announced that the AAP government will advertise two lakh new jobs if Delhi gets full statehood.
Kejriwal had also promised in 2015 that all contractual workers would be regularised and claimed that the Delhi government has two lakh job vacancies. AAP leaders in September 2019 had told ThePrint that the file on this matter had been passed on to the central government, which never approved it.
“It is not possible for the government to directly create jobs, but we will encourage businesses so that employment can be generated,” said a member of the AAP’s election manifesto committee.
Asked why the manifesto didn’t mention jobs even once, the member didn’t have any response.
AAP failed in its toilet promise
The party had promised to build 2,00,000 toilets in 2015. However, according to the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board, chaired by Kejriwal, the government had only constructed 22,000 community toilets in the last three-and-half-years.
A Comptroller and Auditor General’s report tabled in the Delhi Assembly in 2018 says not a single toilet was constructed in two-and-half-years under the central government’s Swachh Bharat Scheme since its inception in 2014.
The BJP, meanwhile, in its manifesto for this year’s Delhi elections has promised to provide employment opportunities to at least 10 lakh youth in the next five years “so that youth are empowered to pursue their aspirations”.
The Congress promised to make job creation the no.1 priority, both in the public and private sectors, in its manifesto.
The party has announced that it would help create 34 lakh jobs in the public sector and fill up all the four lakh central government vacancies before March 2020.
It has also promised creation of 10 lakh new Seva Mitra positions in every gram panchayat and urban local body.