A day ahead of a joint procession by Patels, Dalits and OBCs to highlight the issue of unemployment in the state, Gujarat Chief Secretary J. N. Singh on Thursday said that the state tops in providing jobs.
"During the last three years, 13. 45 lakh people have been provided direct employment, both in government and private sector, " Singh told reporters here.
He said that Gujarat ranks highest among all the states in the country in terms of providing employment.
Singh's claim was, however, disputed by OBC Ekta Manch convenor Alpesh Thakor, under whose leadership the march would be taken out on Friday.
The Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) of Hardik Patel and the Una Dalit Atyachar Virodhi Samiti of Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani will be part of the march.
The march will begin from Becharaji in north Gujarat and conclude at Gandhinagar.
More than three lakh youngsters from all the communities would join the march, according to Alpesh Thakor.
He said, "Despite claims by the state government of attracting mammoth investments in the state in the last seven 'Vibrant Gujarat' events, more than 60 lakh youth in the state remain unemployed. "
All the three organisations have demanded 85 per cent reservation for local Gujaratis in jobs going forward.
They have even threatened to disrupt the high - profile four - day Vibrant Gujarat summit beginning on January 10.
Patidar leader Varun Patel, a close aide of PAAS Convenor Hardik Patel, announced solidarity with the "Unemployment March", stating that the root cause of all the ongoing agitations is unemployment.
Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani too has extended his support.
Thakor has claimed that other than Patidars and Dalits, communities including Brahmins, Rabaris and Muslims have also extended support to the march.
The Chief Secretary, on the other hand, cited more numbers to back his claim.
Pointing at figures released by the Labour Bureau of the Government of India in September last, he said: "Unemployment rate for 15 years and above in Gujarat has been at 9 per 1, 000.
Compared to this, the national figure stands at 50 per 1, 000. "
He went on to say that Gujarat roughly has 600, 000 youth listed with 48 employment exchanges.
The official said that the state has done an extensive survey among 1. 4 lakh of these listed candidates and found only 34 per cent of them actually did not have a job.
The rest had enlisted themselves either for underemployment or for better employment opportunities, he claimed.