Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday accused the Narendra Modi government of trying to extinguish the “essence and idea of India”, and said the party must be “ready” to protect these in 2019. Addressing the Congress Working Committee, she said there has been a rise in lynch mobs and alleged that a “close ideological affinity” existed between the mobs and the ruling establishment. “We are not far from the 2019 elections. We must be ready to protect the essence and idea of India, which this government is seeking to extinguish,” she said. Women, Dalits, adivasis, minorities and other oppressed sections are facing perilous times, she added.
“Divisive issues are being whipped up, and there is an assault on livelihoods and food habits of those who follow different tenets and beliefs. This government is using the power of the state to stifle voices that express different thoughts and ideas, or speak out for alternative policies and philosophies. Whether it is politicians, institutions, students, civil society or the media, there is growing intolerance and active persecution of divergent voices in blatant disregard of the law of the land.”
Former PM Manmohan Singh, too, attacked the government. Talking about GDP numbers released by Central Statistical Office, he said, “India’s economic growth has slowed down sharply, driven sharply by the notebandi announcement of November 2016.” While Gross Value Added has experienced a “steep and sustained fall”, private sector investment has collapsed and the economy is “running on just one engine of public spending”, he said.
The “most worrisome” aspect is the impact on job creation, he said. “Jobs have been extremely hard to come by for the youth of the nation. The construction industry has suffered a contraction… this implies loss of millions of jobs,” he said.
About the three-year record of the Modi government, Sonia said, “Where there was harmony, there is discord. Where there was tolerance, there is provocation. Where there was relative calm, as in Kashmir, there is growing confrontation, tension and fear. Where there was economic potential, there is stagnation. Where there was rich diversity, there is a brazen campaign to straitjacket the whole country into a regressive and narrow-minded worldview.”
Senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Karan Singh briefed the CWC on Kashmir. Sonia said the crisis in the state had come to represent the “colossal failure of this government”. “The insensitive handling of the situation by both the state and central governments are systematically alienating and antagonising the local population… A divisive agenda is being followed which has undone years of goodwill and progress,” she said.
She said the government’s policies were characterised by poor planning and implementation. “It isn’t that the Reserve Bank of India has forgotten how to count money; it is that the actual numbers show that the scheme (demonetisation) was a disaster…. Make in India has failed to create jobs or attract investment. Unemployment is rampant. Farmers are in severe distress, forcing them to commit suicide. Manifesto promises that should have been fulfilled in 2019 are now being shifted to 2022.”