Rising prices and unemployment could be key issues in Lok Sabha elections

Tribune News Service

P.K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, March 28

As India prepares for the Lok Sabha elections, high inflation causing rising prices of basic goods and large-scale unemployment among the educated youth are among the issues likely to play a key role in how people vote for the new government at the Centre.

Ironically, prices of basic commodities, including fuel prices, have risen many-fold over the past two decades, directly affecting the people, yet successive central governments have failed to address the issue. A recent report on unemployment in India by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Institute for Human Development (IHD) also paints a grim picture of the employment situation in the country.

The prevalence of drug abuse also remains a major problem in Punjab, especially in the border areas including Amritsar, and is yet to be resolved.

Social activist Sunil Arora said unemployment is a major concern for the residents of this border state as it is in the rest of the country. Due to unemployment, Punjab’s youth either fall prey to the rampant drug abuse or go abroad in search of a better life. Many of them end up losing their hard-earned money or ending up in foreign prisons.

“It is unfortunate that no government in the past has been able to attract industries and investments to create jobs,” he pointed out.

“Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, many politicians have been switching parties but the real issues affecting the people have been put on the back burner,” said noted lawyer Ravi Mahajan. He said food grains have seen unprecedented hikes and fuel prices including LPG, petrol and diesel have also skyrocketed. Unfortunately, this issue has not been mentioned in any political speech so far. Instead, political parties have been indulging in political smear campaigns and no serious discussion has taken place on the issue yet, he added.

Deepak Kumar, a fruit stall owner, said there was no major relief from inflation for the common man who is still struggling to make ends meet. Politicians, he said, were ignoring issues pertaining to the people and were interested in getting tickets to contest elections and switching parties to suit their political interests.

Suman Sharma, a housewife, pointed out that education costs in Punjab remain the highest despite the government directing private schools not to hike fees. With the quality of education in government schools needing improvement, middle-class families would think twice before enrolling their children in reputed private schools, she said.

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