Nearly 3.64 lakh educated and "semi-educated" youngsters had registered with employment exchanges across Gujarat till December 2021, according to state government data.
Of them, the highest number of unemployed youths -- 26,921 -- were in Vadodara, followed by Ahmedabad (26,628), Anand (22,515), Rajkot (18,997) and Kheda (16,163) districts.
The figures were shared by Labour, Skill Development and Employment Minister Brijesh Merja in his written replies to a set of questions by the opposition Congress during the State Legislative Assembly session in March.
Unemployment remains a major issue in Gujarat even as the BJP-ruled state's governance model has been at the core of the Narendra Modi-led dispensation at the Centre.
Polling to elect 182-member Gujarat Legislative Assembly is scheduled to be held in two phases on Thursday and December 5.
In its recent report titled ‘Unemployment in India - A Statistical Profile’, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), a Mumbai-based private entity set up as an independent think-tank in 1976, pegged the overall unemployment rate in Gujarat at 2.83 per cent that existed between May and August this year, against 10.86 per cent at national level for the same period.
The sample size of the CMEI's survey in Gujarat was 9,066 households.
In what could be seen as a more realistic indicator of the unemployment scenario in Gujarat, about 17 lakh candidates reportedly applied for 3,400 vacant posts of Talati cum Minister or village panchayat secretary a few months ago.
"Whoever comes to power should think of the poor people like us. We should get employment opportunities, essential things like gas cylinders should be made affordable. The government should think about people like us," said Raju Koli of Atkot village in Jasdan assembly constituency said.
Ramesh Sondarva, a farm labourer, echoed similar view and said people of the state should bring about a change this time.
Jasdan is one of the backward constituencies in Rajkot which will go to the polls on December 1.
Amid recurring voices of approval for Prime Minister Narendra Modi across the state, there is a less frequent, but steady hum of complaints about unemployment.
Many of the students of Saurashtra University said the BJP has brought 'vikas' (development) by building roads, improving power and water supply in the state but some of them also questioned its record on education and health.
In the Godhra assembly segment, Deepak Padhiyar, a second year student at the Seth PT Arts and Science and Law College, said he had applied for the post of police constable but could not clear the written exam, however, his quest for a better life will continue.
My father is a cobbler with the State Reserve Police Force and mother a homemaker who also takes care of our footwear shop, he said.
"There is hardly any income from the shop. Now I want to apply for the post of Talati (revenue officer). This time my preference will be AAP,” Padhiyar said, citing the "Delhi model of governance" as the reason behind him choosing the Arvind Kejriwal-led party.
Srimali Kirit (22), a first-year law student, claimed unemployment is a crucial factor in the state.
"This (BJP) government is emphasising on contractual workers who have no pension. There is a need for government jobs with implementation of the old pension scheme that will give workers protection after retirement,” Kirit said.
He said his father is no more and his mother gets a pension of Rs 12,000 and another pension of Rs 1,200 under a central scheme for widows -- not enough for the family to sustain their livelihood.
Amid high decibel poll campaign in the state, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has given a “guarantee” to provide a job to every unemployed youth in Gujarat over the next five years.
The party has promised to provide Rs 3,000 per month as unemployment allowance to youth from the state coffer till they remain unemployed.
The Congress too has promised to generate 10 lakh jobs in government and semi-government departments.
With the rivals raising the issue of unemployment prominently in their poll campaigns, the ruling BJP has also promised that it will create 20 lakh employment opportunities and take the state's economy to USD 1 trillion in the next five years if voted back to power.
In its manifesto released by party president J P Nadda recently in the presence of Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and state unit chief C R Paatil, the BJP also promised to create more than one lakh government jobs for women over the next five years.
In October, the ABP News-C Voter had claimed that around 31.4 percent voters surveyed by them had cited unemployment as their main concern.
-With PTI Input