"Can't Insult North Indians": Priyanka Gandhi Schools Labour Minister

New Delhi: 

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra today issued a sharply-worded response to Union Minister Santosh Gangwar's comment on the lack of qualified candidates among job seekers in North India, warning the BJP leader against using North Indians to avoid taking responsibility for the economic slowdown. The Congress leader also reminded Mr Gangwar, a Minister of State (Independent) in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, that jobs had been lost because of the recession brought about by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government at the centre.

"Minister, your government is more than five years old. The jobs that were there have been lost due to the economic recession brought by (your) government. Young people are looking to the government to show them something good... the way forward. But you want to escape by insulting the North Indians. It will not work," Ms Gandhi Vadra wrote in Hindi.

The minister's comments, which he today attempted to explain as having been said in a "different context", were also ridiculed by former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati.

"After the hilarious statements by the central ministers regarding the period of economic slowdown and other problems, rather than solving the problem of unemployment in the nation, particularly in the northern region, it is shameful that some of them have stated that there is a lack of qualification for which an apology should be issued to the nation," the BSP chief tweeted in Hindi.

On Saturday, while addressing reporters in his constituency of Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, Mr Gangwar had insisted there was no shortage of job opportunities and said companies recruiting in North India had told him they were unable to find qualified candidates.

In May, India's unemployment rate was pegged at a 45-year-high of 6.1 per cent in 2017/18. The figure, leaked by the Business Standard newspaper in January, was confirmed by the centre a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn-in for a second term.

Detailed official data on unemployment has not been filed for several years. Following release of 2017/18 figures the government declined to provide comparable numbers for more recent years.

The minister's comments also come as India's growth rate slipped to 5 per cent in the June quarter, down from 5.8 per cent in the January-March period, its slowest in 17 years. Several sectors, from automobile to consumer goods have expressed concern over flagging sales.

Earlier this week Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was criticised on Twitter for appearing to link the crisis in the auto industry, which has seen double-digit falls in sales and fired more than three lakh people, to millennials' preference for Uber and Ola cabs over committing money to EMIs for new cars.

With input from ANI

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