No fear among corrupt since Modi left Gujarat, says AAP's Yuvrajsinh Jadeja

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No fear among corrupt since Modi left Gujarat, says AAP’s Yuvrajsinh Jadeja
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Yuvrajsinh Jadeja (33) is a whistleblower, YouTuber, student activist, and an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader in Gujarat. In the past three years, his complaints on irregularities in government recruitment exams have resulted in the cancellation of two government exams, over two dozen arrests and an ongoing investigation in the third. Recently, his team observed the “unemployed kite festival” on Makar Sankranti — a day significant in the state’s social, cultural and political space — to protest the rising unemployment and paper leak scandals in Gujarat. He has demanded a CBI investigation into all government recruitments since 2014 in the state.

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Jadeja speaks to Vaibhav Jha regarding his quest for action against irregular government recruitments, unemployment among youths as well as his plans for the upcoming 2022 Vidhan Sabha elections. Excerpts from the interview:

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Why are you insisting on a CBI inquiry in paper leaks and why have you chosen its time span from 2014?

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The government has taken action on the mass corruption and paper leaks after I brought them forward in the media. But what about the other exams? Even in these three cases (Bin Sachivalaya Clerk and Office Assistant (Grade 3) exam, Head Clerk recruitment exam conducted by Gujarat Subordinate Service Selection Board (GSSSB) and recruitments by Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (GUVNL) ), the government cancelled the paper and suspended the recruitments (in two instances). But was any punishment meted out to perpetrators and the applicants who took unethical benefit? Can the government claim with confidence that no other irregularities have been done in other exams and such acts won’t be repeated in the future?

I have chosen the year to be 2014 because Narendra Modi became Prime Minister this year and left Gujarat for Delhi. In his absence, the sense of fear has been lost among the corrupt. The Gujarat bureaucracy has become lax and no longer worried that they will face retribution for wrong acts.

You joined the AAP in 2021 but whenever you have addressed these issues, you have called yourself a whistleblower and student activist, dissociating yourself with the party. Why?

I am an AAP member. The attitude of the state government is that if someone from the opposition raises an issue, regardless of how critical it is, they try to bury it with internal inquiries and don’t listen to the voice of the opposition. It is necessary to speak as a neutral person when you are a students representative raising such issues so that the people also are not led into thinking that I am doing this for my political mileage. I have no issues with my party but here I am raising the issues in front of the government as an activist.

You have claimed that you sought time with the Chief Minister, Governor and other leaders of Gujarat to discuss your demands. What has been the attitude of the state government?

The state government wants to suppress me in any manner they could. They have been using the strategy of “Sam Daam Dand Bhed” through threats, by luring using money or political posting, and action against me. I have been asked to switch allegiance to their political party as well.

The government has arrested a Talati in the Bin Sachivalay exam case and a printing press operator in GSSSB case claiming them to be the masterminds of the leaks. Do you think big fishes are being spared?

If I am an aspirant looking for a question paper before the exam and I buy it from someone, would the police be content arresting me and the low-level dealer or would they be also looking for the one who had leaked it in the first place? You have arrested a printing press operator as a mastermind but such leaks can never happen without the involvement of government officials.

What are your political aspirations? Will you be contesting in the 2022 Vidhan Sabha polls?

We hold elections to choose a public representative who leads the people, listens to the local issues and brings them to the Vidhan Sabha. I have been a public representative doing the same. The ones whom we have given votes are not doing their job properly. They have forgotten the basic tenets of democracy – for the people, by the people and of the people. What’s important is raising the issues of the people, and I am ready to do that as an activist, whistleblower or through the elections.

In the state polls this year, there will be voters in the age group 18-25 years who have only seen one-party rule in Gujarat with Congress as opposition. Do you think AAP will be able to make a third alternative space?

The issue of unemployment among youth is massive and there is a 100 per cent need for a third-party alternative in Gujarat. The Congress and the BJP have ruled here for several decades; yet there is not a single leader today who is willing to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with these youth. The Congress as opposition should have raised these issues in the past that are now being done by the AAP. I believe there should be fear of people among those in power and not the other way round.

Talking of unemployment, the state government has claimed in the Vidhan Sabha that Gujarat has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country at 2.2 per cent, and hardly over 4 lakh youth are registered in its state portal to seek jobs. What do you make of these statistics?

The fundamental issue with these statistics revealed by the government is that the audit of registration portal and employment agency is being done by only them and there is no third-party agency involved for accuracy and transparency. While seeking votes, the political parties can create a database of households in each village of Gujarat then why can’t you do the same for data of unemployed people. Why can’t we have an employment office at the taluka level for an accurate survey? Unfortunately, there is no willpower in the government to seek out actual figures.

In 2015-16, we saw the emergence of three youth leaders – Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mevani and Alpesh Thakor. Today, all three of them have joined different political parties. Do you think there is a vacuum created in Gujarat when it comes to a popular youth leader? Do you think you will be able to take up that space?

It will not be right to refer to the three as youth leaders as they are social leaders who have come from their respective communities and raise their issues. Can you show me one MLA out of the 182 in the Assembly who can truly be called a mass leader and takes along all communities? Here, the political party itself claims proudly that their CM is from a particular community, some other party claims that they have given seats to minority candidates. Regarding the vacuum, the youth of Gujarat is in need of a mass leader, irrespective of the caste, who can listen to their woes and lend support. I am trying my best to become a students leader who can take along all communities.

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