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What no party in UP wants to talk about

February 21, 2017 10:32 IST

None of the political parties in UP has any effective plans to create jobs, reports Subhomoy Bhattacharjee.

UP Roadways bus 

The only vehicle absent from the melange of traffic on the roads of Uttar Pradesh towns is a city bus.

Moving around any of these towns means getting hold of a tempo or a taxi, but rarely a bus.

The local population associates a bus only with inter-city travel. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav inaugurated a smart bus station at Kaiserbagh in Lucknow that only allows passengers to enter the bus bays.

Nearby, at the Lucknow Junction railway station, a long line of people snakes out towards the road by 6 pm every day.

Each is waiting to get a toehold in the unreserved coaches of the popular Pushpak Express, which travels daily to CST, Mumbai.

The smart, 302-km Lucknow Agra Expressway has slashed travel time from Lucknow to Delhi from an overnight journey to a matter of six hours.

All over Uttar Pradesh, getting out of the state is getting easier. But moving people within the state and within the towns is hardly a priority.

Uttar Pradesh provides the largest percentage of migrant workers within India. And the priorities of this movement has got hardwired in the state's development plans.

None of the political parties has any effective plans to create additional employment avenues for the population.

Kanpur city was given a fleet of 270 buses in April 2010 under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission.

District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma says hardly any of these buses are in working condition anymore.

Many of them are parked at the Jhakarkati bus station, from where inter-state buses ply.

The annual maintenance contract for these buses, signed with a Lucknow-based automobile dealer called GoldRush Sales and Services Ltd, is defunct.

Each of those buses had the ability to provide at least five jobs, if they had plied the city streets.

Kanpur is the commercial hub, and is now fast becoming a coaching centre.

Students from all over Uttar Pradesh, and even beyond, come here hoping to get coaching to crack one of the engineering exams, including a chance to get into the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur. They have to either walk or cram the autorickshaws to commute.

The example of a badly maintained bus fleet is repeated on a smaller scale in Agra, Varanasi, Allahabad and Meerut.

The biggest business of the Uttar Pradesh Small Industries Corporation today is that of manpower outsourcing.

The corporation's Fazalganj Industrial Area-based head office has a list of nine major programmes.

Eight are several decades old: The one bursting with activity is the ninth, recruitment of contract workers for government departments and state-level corporations.

The entity received the state cabinet's approval for designating itself a 'manpower outsourcing agency' in October 2014. 

The state has 2.3 million micro, small and medium enterprises, according to its own data.

Yet the employment avenue for the skilled population is to either enlist with one of the agencies recognised by the Small Industries Corporation as a contract worker or move out of the state.

Firozabad, the state's glass manufacturing centre, now imports glassware from China at its glittering stalls.

Data from the district industries centre show in the 4,000-odd glass units in the district, employing an average of eight workers a unit, the numbers have fallen off big time, as they struggle to stay in business.

None of these concerns are reflected in the party manifestos or in the parties' outreach to people in the elections to the assembly.

The Bahujan Samaj Party does not have a manifesto.

The Samajwadi Party manifesto has little to say on developments promoting jobs.

The BJP manifesto also does not offer any ideas.

Akhilesh Yadav's manifesto has a telling paragraph on measures to help trade.

'The role of the district administration will be set to ensure the safety of businessmen and entrepreneurs.'

It is no surprise then that crime-related issues figure big-time in the promises of all parties, instead of employment.

Neither at Firozabad nor Kanpur do the candidates refer to these themes.

Rather, the Samajwadi Party manifesto has a section on advocates' welfare, including promise of financial support for their destitute families.

No wonder, the Kanpur district magistrate's office is ringed by possibly the largest colony of lawyer offices in the world, sprouting from every corner.

The DM's media officer, Sidharth, puts their number at close to 20,000.

IMAGE: A scene from Saharanpur, Western UP. Phptograph: Seema Pant

Subhomoy Bhattacharjee
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