Tejasvi Surya contested the 2019 Lok Sabha election from Bangalore South on a BJP ticket and won when he was just 28. In 2020, he took over as the national president of the party’s youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM). He leads the Morcha at a time when the party is trying hard to make inroads in the south while making efforts to retain the states where it is in power. In an interview with Kumar Shakti Shekhar, he spells out the task cut out for him and the BJYM besides the contributions which the BJP-led NDA government have made for the youth of the country. Excerpts:
What have been Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government’s contributions for the youth of India?
The prime minister calls the youth of this country the ‘Amritkal generation’ because this generation will be contributing the most to the growth of India in the next 25 years. There are three ‘E’s on which the PM has worked. They are education, employment and empowerment of this generation.
Speaking of education, in the last eight years under Modi ji, capacity-building of infrastructure of our education institutions has tripled and in some cases even quadrupled. Whether it is the addition of new IITs, AIIMS, central universities or institutions of eminence, all of these have increased. There has been more than 65 per cent increase in the number of medical seats. Through initiatives like the NEP (National Education Policy, 2020) and NEET (National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test), there is a remarkable change in the quality of education being imparted now in the country. The NEP has been reviewed finally after 34 years. It is an up-to-date and modern policy. It is going to impact the whole of the country on a large scale.
For the record, since 2014, the number of AIIMS is up by 214 per cent, the number of PG medical seats is up by 93 per cent, the number of UG medical seats is up by 75 per cent and the number of universities is up by 38 per cent. In addition to these, seven new IITs and IIMs have been established.
With respect to employment, Rs 100 lakh crore spent on infrastructure pipeline is creating multiple jobs for crores of young people all across the country. More than one crore people have been trained under the Kaushal Vikas Yojana (Skill Development Scheme). Their skilling and up-skilling have taken place. If we look at the EPFO (Employees' Provident Fund Organisation) numbers, it shows that about 15 lakh people joined the formal job market every month, which is the highest in the last decade or so. Just in the last few months, more than 1.5 lakh people have got central government jobs. The target is to give 10 lakh central government jobs. That recruitment drive is also in progress. There are many reforms that were made in the labour courts and legislation to ensure that more jobs are created. Today India is creating more jobs per day than it has done ever before. This has created a great prosperity for the aspirational generational.
As far as empowerment is concerned, whether it is sports – through initiatives like the Khelo India, Fit India, TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme), supporting athletes – or creating schemes like Start Up India, the country today has the third highest number of unicorns. Whether it is giving loans to new entrepreneurs under Mudra, all of these are initiatives aimed at empowerment of the young.
The central focus of all the good governance schemes of the Modi sarkar is the youth. That is why the youth are so strongly with Narendra Modi ji.
Talking about employment, opposition parties allege that the BJP had promised 2 crore jobs per annum but it has not materialised. What do you have to say about it?
We have the EPFO data to show that just in the formal sector, around 15 lakh jobs are produced every month. In the informal sector, new enterprises are starting every day. Every year, new airports are constructed, new ports are built and new infrastructure is getting created. Aren’t these translating into jobs? If the GDP of the country is increasing and if the country has grown from a ‘fragile five’ economy to the fifth largest economy, does this not mean that a large number of youth have benefitted out of this growth in economy? Can the economy grow without people getting jobs? Can the per capita income of people increase without them getting good jobs? We are arguing and putting our case forward with data while all the opposition parties are doing is practise the art of spit and run politics.
What have been the achievements of BJYM ever since you were appointed its president in 2020?
The Yuva Morcha is the entry point for young people to join the BJP. Essentially, our work can be divided into four broad aspects - strengthening of the organisation, role of BJYM in election campaigns, agitational campaigns in states where the BJP is in the opposition and the new initiatives it has taken at the national level to bring new people to our side.
In the last two years, the Yuva Morcha has strengthened at the mandal and district levels. Now we are making an effort to go from district to mandals, that is the vidhan sabha levels. After 10 years, we started doing training workshops, what we call ‘Prashikshan Varg’ for our karyakartas (workers). We have started the BJYM magazine to bring new people and impart new ideological dimensions. We have also started a new policy research and training wing for our cadre. In every state where the BJP goes to election, BJYM is one of the most important ground forces for the party – whether it is upgradation of the voters’ list, organising bike rallies, reaching out to new voters, holding nukkad sabhas and reaching out to the youth in college, hostels and university campuses. My travels during the last two years have been more than 1.5 lakh km.
Regarding agitations, BJYM is the leading front of the party in West Bengal, raising issues like corruption and holding protests in a major way. In Rajasthan, the Yuva Morcha has been on the ground continuously in the last two years.
In the south of India – whether it is Telangana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka or Andhra Pradesh – we are trying to further strengthen the organisation as there is great scope of growth in these states. We have also started a campaign called the ‘Sushasan Yatra’. From all over the country, we choose 50-60 karyakartas and send them on organisational visits to different parts of the country in BJP-ruled states. They study good governance practices in these states.
A lot of post-poll violence took place in West Bengal. Several BJP workers were allegedly killed and injured and many women were gang-raped, a matter which is in the Supreme Court. How is the BJYM dealing with the situation and are workers feeling demoralised and threatened?
Starting from the PM to (Union home minister) Amit Shah ji and BJP national president JP Nadda ji, all of the top leaders went to West Bengal. They met our cadre and instilled strength and hope in them. Even today, the party's senior leadership stands alongside the karyakartas of West Bengal or Kerala where they are fighting very steep battles. The leadership is supporting their family, helping the legal fight inside the courts and is giving all kinds of support for all the struggles they are facing. In places where there is physical threat to our karyakartas, they are provided shelter and financial support by karyakartas of other states.
If there is a grave threat to life or property of even a junior karyakarta at a small booth in West Bengal, I have seen Amit Shah ji immediately and directly taking personal interest in protecting him. This is the kind of commitment the party has shown. We will stand by our karyakartas and provide them financial, legal, social, ethical and moral support.