Government jobs in Madhya Pradesh will be reserved for the people of the state, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said today, announcing a decision that could be controversial at a time thousands across the country are facing a job crisis during the coronavirus pandemic. The law will soon be changed to enforce this, he said.
"The Madhya Pradesh government has taken an important decision today. We will be taking necessary legal steps so that government jobs in Madhya Pradesh are only given to the state's youth. Madhya Pradesh's resources only for children of Madhya Pradesh," Shivraj Singh Chouhan said in a video statement.
The announcement has been linked by many to by-polls due in 27 assembly seats, the dates for which are yet to be announced.
Mr Chouhan had earlier said the youth of Madhya Pradesh would be given preference in government jobs. "Madhya Pradesh youths will be given priority in government jobs. It is our duty to be concerned about the youths of our state at a time when job opportunities are scarce," he said on Saturday, addressing the state on Independence Day.
"We will put in place a mechanism to ensure employment to local youths on the basis of their mark-sheets of Class X and XII," he said.
The Chief Minister had also spoken about fighting in court for increasing the OBC quota in jobs from 14 to 27 per cent in the state. The move had been struck down by the Jabalpur High Court.
Former Chief Minister Kamal Nath, whose Congress government fell in March, reminded Mr Chauhan that he had tried to bring a law to reserve 70 per cent jobs in state industrial units for people from the state. He had also announced 70 per cent quota in private sector jobs for people of the state.
"How many youth did you give jobs to in your 15-year rule before our government," Mr Nath questioned in tweets, adding, "At least now you have woken up on the job crisis after 15 years and have imitated our decision to reserve jobs for people of the state. It should not remain just an announcement on paper."
The Congress also raised doubts about the legality of the move.
"In March 2018, the MP High Court, while hearing a writ petition had ordered that the state government cannot violate Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution of India by discriminating or denying job to anyone on the grounds of caste, religion, sex or domicile, which meant that resident of any other state cannot be denied government job in MP. Subsequently, based on the legal opinion of Legal Department, the state government had also withdrawn the Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed in the matter before the Supreme Court," Congress spokesperson Abhay Dube said.
It is shameful that the MP CM just for furthering the narrow political interests is misleading people of the state with false announcements," he added.
Many others criticised the decision, saying it is not right for states to deny opportunities to outsiders.
"Jobs in J&K and Ladakh for everyone but jobs in MP exclusively for people from MP. No surprise there!" tweeted former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
Officials in Madhya Pradesh said in the past 10 years, the state's population has grown by 10 per cent but government jobs have shrunk by 2.5 per cent. Of over 5.6 lakh government jobs, some 93,500 are vacant, they say.