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BJP, Cong spar over leaked report claiming 'record unemployment'

BJP, Cong spar over leaked report claiming record unemployment
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NEW DELHI: A war of words erupted on Thursday between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the leaked job creation report card. In a scathing attack on the Narendra Modi-led government, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said that the data revealed a "National Disaster". In reaction, the BJP quickly responded and termed it as "#FakeNews!"

According to a newspaper report quoting a government survey, India's unemployment rate rose to a 45-year high during 2017-2018. The assessment by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) conducted between July 2017-June 2018, showed the unemployment rate stood at 6.1 per cent, the highest since 1972-73, the newspaper reported.

Citing the report, the Congress president tweeted: "NoMo Jobs! The Fuhrer promised us 2 crore jobs a year. Five years later, his leaked job creation report card reveals a National Disaster. Unemployment is at its highest in 45 years. 6.5 crore youth are jobless in 2017-18 alone. Time for NoMo2Go. #HowsTheJobs"

In reply to his tweet, the BJP said: "It's clear that he has inherited Mussolini's shortsightedness and has a myopic understanding of issues. EPFO's real data shows a sharp increase in jobs, created in just the last 15 months. Only a man who hasn't ever held a proper job & is totally jobless can peddle such #FakeNews!"

The survey has become a political issue after the acting chairman and another member of the body that reviewed the job data resigned saying there was a delay in its release.

NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar on Thursday described the yet-to-be-released report as "not verified" and that "veracity of the data was not known." The damning report, revealed a day before the government's interim Budget, sets up a huge controversy just ahead of the national election, due by May.

Unemployment was higher in the urban areas (7.8 per cent) than in the rural areas (5.3 per cent). The report also says youth unemployment is at "astronomically high" levels of 13 to 27 per cent.

The report says more people are withdrawing from the workforce as the labour force participation rate is lower than in the previous years.

The government fielded its two top plan panel officers, Rajiv Kumar and Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, for fire-fighting as opposition leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, targeted the government.

"You can't be growing at 7.2 per cent and say no jobs are being created. To my mind, the major problem is the lack of quality jobs. The country needs roughly about 7 million jobs," said Amitabh Kant, adding that that demand was being met.

Kant said: "Our internal analysis shows we are creating 7.8 million jobs. A whole lot of people are exiting low productivity jobs in agriculture. Aspirational people want better-paying jobs."

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