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New Delhi: The two main national parties sparred over the issue of job creation in the penultimate weekend before the 16th Lok Sabha election, with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Narendra Modi ridiculing the Congress party’s promise of creating jobs and accusing it of repeating unfulfilled promises.

“They are now promising 10 crore (100 million) jobs and in the previous 2009 manifesto they promised one job for at least one member of each family," said Modi, speaking at Akola in Maharashtra on Sunday.

The Congress, which has led two successive Union governments since 2004, in its election manifesto released on Wednesday said it would announce a detailed job agenda to ensure 100 million jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities for the youth within 100 days of it coming into power.

Modi, the BJP’s nominee for prime minister, said the Congress repeated the same promises before each election. “But people’s memory was not as short as Congress believed it to be," he said.

BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad also issued a statement on Saturday blaming the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for “the mismanagement of the economy leading to price rise, higher unemployment and near destruction of all engines of the economy" under an economist Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.

He cited data from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) that show 60 million new workers were added to the workforce between 1999-2000 and 2004-05, when the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was in government, while only 15 million were added between 2004-05 and 2011-12, with the UPA in power.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh sought to defend the UPA government’s jobs record and its handling of the economy.

In a note released on Saturday, Ramesh said the decade under the UPA delivered higher growth rates than any preceding decade in India’s history and that the jobs data was reflective of “more inclusive, productive and better paying employment generation" and that it was not right to compare the absolute figures of workers in millions.

The workforce figure in millions is based on population estimates and the NSSO that releases the data suggests comparing the worker participation rate rather than the workforce in millions, the Congress said in its statement.

To be sure, a report in the Economic and Political Weekly magazine’s July issue said the NSSO data used outdated population projections and used Census 2011 projections for both 2009-10 and 2011-12.

An October article in the magazine using corrected estimates said that while about 39 million jobs were added in the first period (1999-2000 to 2004-05), 18 million jobs were added between 2004-05 and 2011-12.

The Congress also pointed to an increase in the share of self-employed and regular salaried workers against the decline in the share of casual employment to argue that the quality of the workforce had improved during its administration.

NSSO data released in May showed the percentage of workers employed in casual work declined for males and females in urban and rural areas, while the percentage of those self-employment and regular work increased.

In 2011-12, 30% of the workers was casually employed, 52% was self-employed and 18% had regular work. Much of the decline in casual work since 1999-2000 was due to increase in regular work, the October article in the Economic and Political Weekly said.

kirthi.r@livemint.com

Gyan Varma contributed to this story.

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