Former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday accused the ruling BJP of misusing power to “finish off” the Opposition.
“Political parties are at the heart of our parliamentary democracy. But this itself is under threat now. An attempt is being made to take the country towards one-party rule, which we are opposing,” said Chavan, while interacting with the press in Mumbai.
He also accused the BJP of employing all sorts of “saam” (ask), “daam” (money), “dand” (punish), “bhed” (blackmail) to “finish-off” the Opposition.
His accusation comes against the backdrop of the arrests of former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram and former Karnataka minister D K Shivakumar, and the ongoing trend of mass exodus of legislators from the Congress and the NCP in poll-bound Maharashtra.
On Tuesday, former Mumbai Congress president Kripashankar Singh, who had last year been discharged in an alleged disproportionate assets case, quit the party. He is tipped to join the BJP. Harshavardhan Patil, who was a Cabinet minister in the Prithviraj Chavan government, is likely to join the BJP on Wednesday. Earlier on Monday, Chavan’s close-aide, Anandrao Patil, a Congress legislator, met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, sparking speculations over his likely defection too.
Chavan, who also heads Congress’ manifesto committee for the upcoming state polls, said that his party had plans to make this “attack on the democracy” an issue in the election campaign.
The former CM also targeted the government over job loss and downturn of the Indian economy. Blaming the incorrect policies of the government for the state of affairs, Chavan demanded slashing of GST rates for the struggling automobile and construction sectors.
“The Indian economy has lost traction. The economic growth rate has slipped to its lowest in six years. The manufacturing sector has taken a big hit,” he said, while the agricultural economy remains in doldrums.
Accusing the government of “concealing” statistics regarding job generation and job loss, Chavan alleged that in the automobile sector alone 2.5 lakh jobs had been lost so far.
“The figure might rise to 10 lakh if the government does not take immediate corrective measures. Close to 100 showrooms in Mumbai, Thane, and Pune had shut down,” he said.
Referring to a Reserve Bank of India report that claimed that Rs 71,543 crore work of frauds were detected in 2018-19, Chavan demanded that “those behind it be held accountable”.
The RBI report had claimed that 90 per cent of these detections were in government sector banks.