In the last month, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has stepped up his offensive against the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP government, commenting on the lack of employment for youth, on the state of the economy and, what he said, was an apparent lack of governance plaguing the country.
On the third day of his visit to poll-bound Gujarat on Wednesday as part of a Navsarjan Yatra, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi targeted the BJP government for not being able to provide employment to the youth, while favouring top industrialists and companies in the country. “You have no future in Gujarat. They are snatching your money to secure the future of 10 people,” Gandhi told an audience of tribal students, adding that the Congress is coming to change ‘what’s wrong’.
Here is a look at what Rahul Gandhi has said on the Narendra Modi government:
Jobs and unemployment
In his address on ‘India at 70’ at the University of California, Berkeley, on September 12, Gandhi said the central challenge in India is the creation of jobs. He added that institutions such as the banking system and the government, are “geared towards” the top 100 companies in India, making it difficult for entrepreneurs in small and medium businesses to thrive. “Thirty three thousand new youngsters join the job market every single day and yet the government is only creating 500 jobs a day,” he said. “Small and medium businesses are the bedrock of India and the world’s innovation. Big businesses can easily manage the unpredictability of india. They are protected by their deep pockets and connections,” he said.
Gandhi said “hatred, anger and violence and the politics of polarisation which has raised its ugly head in India today” can break India’s economic momentum. “Violence and hatred distract people from the task at hand. The politics of hate divides and polarises India making millions of people feel that the have no future in their own country,” he added.
While interacting with students at Stanford University, the Congress vice-president had suggested ways to improve governance in the country. “Transparency is needed; it is not easy, but it is powerful. You open up the process, people will see and become experts. People will figure out how to solve a problem and if they don’t know, they will learn and come. I would like to open up the legislature to experts and students so that they can help us with the law making structure,” he had said.
Further, he added, “The main problem is the centralisation of political system. A chief minister or a prime minister has much power to influence things far outside. It is not only a question of decentralisation of power, it is the question of right amount of decentralisation of power to the right level.”
Speaking in Morbi district during his Navsarjan Yatra in poll-bound Gujarat in September, Rahul Gandhi targeted the Narendra Modi-led government for favouring a handful of industrialists over small traders, farmers and labourers. “Work is done by the farmer, small trader, labourer, youth and benefits are reaped by 5-10 industrialists. This is the story of Gujarat, Modiji’s model. We have to change this,” he had said. “If we want to change Gujarat, we have to make a government of Gujarat. Government by remote control will not work.”
On farmer issues
As part of his three-day visit to poll-bound Gujarat, Gandhi had raised farmers issues, and the adverse impact of demonetisation on the community. “…Modi ordered notebandi. Country suffered huge loses. Farmers buy seeds by paying in cash. When you buy seeds, do you pay by mobile or phone? Do you pay through cheque or credit card? Don’t know what happened, but Modi launched a severe attack on the economy of the country without consulting anybody,” he had said.
Rahul Gandhi said the introduction of GST was impacting small businessmen. “We suggested introduce a GST with one tax rate and do not rush into the new regime. But they were in a hurry. They introduced a GST with five slabs of tax rates. And today, small businessmen have to file three forms every month. Big companies have accountants. But these small businessmen are unable to fill up forms. Lakhs have shut shops,” he said.
“They have no space in heart for the weak and poor sections of the society… but they open all the doors for the rich people of the society,” the Congress vice-president had added at another rally during his Gujarat tour.
Make in India
During his Saurashtra tour, Rahul Gandhi raised PM Modi’s Make in India initiative. He said, “Wherever Modi goes, he promotes Make in India. But whenever you walk into a shop, it’s all Made in China. On milk bags, there is Made in India and not Made in China. We shall help promote this model which can stand competition from China.”
At Princeton too, Gandhi had commented on the government’s flagship scheme, saying it could be a ‘powerful’ idea if implemeted well. “I like the Make in India concept, but I think that the targeting of Make in India concept should be different. The prime minister feels the targeting of Make in India concept should be large businesses, I believe it should be targeted towards small and medium businesses. If Make in India is implemented well, it is a powerful idea,” he said.
At his Lok Sabha constituency of Amethi on October 4, Gandhi said, “Modi speaks about Swachh Bharat but he does not ask anyone to know whether somebody really wants Swachh Bharat or not. One morning he will wake up and say that he wants Swachh Bharat, brooms will be given to entire country to start the work.”
On the economy
In a series of tweets on October 6, the Congress scion targeted the government for creating a “GST mess” to further electoral interests. His comments came following the GST Council’s decision to reduce tax rates for more than two dozen goods and services, several of which will help enterprises and exporters in Gujarat, which goes to polls in a few months. The list includes man-made filament, synthetic yarn and fibre, and food items from the state like khakra.
“Wish Modiji viewed economic slide and GST mess from prism of solving suffering of people than furthering electoral interests. Then, first step would be to bring petrol/diesel under GST to prevent excessive profiteering from common man as Government of India alone earns Rs 2,73,000 crore,” he tweeted.
“Time to correct the ‘One Nation, Seven Tax’, multiple form filing and draconian power of taxman. Make it ‘Good’ and ‘Simple’ beyond rhetoric,” he had added.
Questioning Modi on the standoff between the Indian and Chinese armies at Doklam, Gandhi asked if he (Modi) was done “thumping” his chest. With a link to an article on China’s road expansion efforts in Doklam, Gandhi tweeted, “Modiji, once you’re done thumping your chest, could you please explain this?” tagging a news report on China’s road expansion efforts in Doklam.
On the RSS
Rahul Gandhi targeted the RSS, the parents organisation of the BJP, for disallowing women. “You know who the parent organisation of the BJP is? It is the RSS. It is their idea that as long as women remain silent, they are good. The moment a woman opens her mouth, they want to shut her up.”
“Have you seen a single woman at an RSS shakha wearing shorts? I have never seen any. Why aren’t women allowed in RSS? They (BJP) have so many women in the party, but I have not seen a single woman in the RSS. What mistake have they made?” he added, during a rally across central Gujarat on October 10.