"Economic pundits" may be criticising the Modi government for a "jobless growth", but India cannot tackle unemployment only with jobs, BJP president Amit Shah has said, noting that 7.28 crore people have become self-employed under the Centre's Mudra loan scheme in three years.
"Economic pundits talk about a jobless growth and try to tear out the few hair that I have on my head by asking where the jobs are?" Shah said, tongue firmly in cheek.
He was speaking at the launch of a coffee table book, 'The Making of a Legend', on Prime Minister Narendra Modi here today. The function was attended by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and several Union ministers and BJP leaders.
A country with a population of 125 crore cannot deal with the problem of unemployment by only creating jobs and the Modi government has provided self-employment to 7.28 crore youths, he said.
Highlighting Modi's schemes aimed at the poor strata of society, a segment he has been assiduously cultivating, Shah said that the government's biggest success was that it had provided opportunities to "the last man in the queue" to lift himself out of poverty.
The government ensured that every household had a bank account and had built over 4.38 crore toilets to give dignity to poor women who were otherwise forced to defecate in open, he said.
Taking a swipe at previous governments, Shah said many prime ministers who spoke about development and the poor had come and gone but it was left to Modi to build toilets, open bank accounts and provide the poor other basic facilities.
The government has set a target of giving five crore LPG connections to poor women by 2019 and to every household by 2024.
Past debates on whether a government should focus on urban or rural India, on industry or agriculture and on reform or welfare schemes had been ended with the government striking a balance between them, he said.
On the occasion, Shah also expressed his disagreement with the use of the word "legend" in the book's title for Modi, and said it was not an appropriate choice for a man who had worked in a "natural and simple manner" like a 'karyakarta'.
The book has been authored by Bindeshwar Pathak, the founder of Sulabh International. Pathak said no Indian leader after Gandhi focused as much on cleanliness as Modi.
Shah traced Modi's focus on self-employment and skill development to his rule in Gujarat where he was chief minister for over 12 years.
Between 2006 and 2012, Modi had focused on solving the crisis of Gujarat's falling water table and many regions came out of the "dark zone" due to his efforts.
In north Gujarat, most places fell under the dark zone, he said, adding that the state was now free of the "dark zone".