Rahul Gandhi marked his return from the ‘break’ with a strong attack on Prime Minister Modi and the ruling party over several issues, chiefly among them the issue of demonetisation. Addressing the gathering at Congress party’s Jan Vedna Sammelan in New Delhi, he charged the BJP-led government at the Centre of weakening institutes across the country.
Our opponents keep asking what we did in the last 70 years of our rule. We don’t need to explain what Congress did in the last 70 years. State after state, our workers have given their blood for the country. Can any BJP worker talk of such sacrifice?” Gandhi said in his opening remarks.
“What the Modi government has done in last two and a half years is what nobody has done in last 70 years. Every institution including the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been weakened,” he said.
Alleging further that the government is “weakening” the “soul of India”, he said, “We gave respect to institutes like the RBI, judiciary, industry, and more so to the press… These institutes are the soul of India…”
The meet was also significant for its optics as it was Rahul and not her mother and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi who gave an opening address.
While Sonia Gandhi may attend the meet later in the day, nearly all senior leaders were present including former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh, Ahmed Patel and Congress leaders in both the houses of Parliament – Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge.
Picking from the momentum his party gathered during the Parliament session opposing the government’s decision of demonetisation or note ban, the Congress vice president trained guns at PM Modi, claiming it is the “worst” decision taken by any government in last 70 years.
“Modiji is ridiculed world over… every major economist have said Prime Minister of India has taken such an incompetent decision,” he said.
The issue has led to a major stand-off between the government and the Opposition, leading to the near washout of the Winter session with both the houses witnessing protest by the Opposition members.
“Demonetisation to ek bahana hai… Modiji knows very well that he’ll not be able to hide behind Yoga, Swachh Bharat, Skill India, Digi India etc. So now he is hiding behind Baba Ramdev and other economist in their fold,” Gandhi said criticising not just the demonetisation but also various flagship initiatives of the government.
Alleging further that the demonetisation has “broken the backbone of India”, Rahul Gandhi cited the recent reports of slump in the automobile sector and rise in the demand for MNREGA jobs in rural India.
“For seven years the level of unemployment was never so high… People are asking when will acche din come…” he said, adding amid cheers that “Achche Din will come when the Congress party comes back to the power in 2019”.
Prior to the Congress meet, Rahul Gandhi’s absence from the political landscape, following his announced ‘break’ on December 31, was criticised as his party jostled protests and street demonstrations over the issue of note ban. Besides, his absence had also held up Congress party’s crucial election committee meeting for the upcoming Punjab polls.