Congress party vice president Rahul Gandhi took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he criticised the Central government over its proposed move to impose one per cent excise duty on the non-silver jewellery. Joining the issue, which has resulted into a large scale protest by the jewellers, Gandhi also took a swipe at the BJP-led NDA government’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ initiative.
Addressing the rally of All India Bullion Jeweller and Swarnakar Federation at Jantar Mantar, Gandhi alleged the proposed decision to impose excise duty was being done to benefit big industrialists.
“First and foremost big industrialists will benefit and secondly those people will gain who will extract money from your profit through pressure and blackmail. This babbar sher belongs to five to six big industrialists,” he said in a reference to the logo of ‘Make in India’.
“This babbar sher of Make in India is trying to strangulate small businesses through excise. This is the truth. 6 crore people are associated with this business. They contribute 7 per cent of the country’s GDP through their blood and sweat,” he added amid the slogans from gathering.
Assuring that Congress party is firmly behind the jewellers in their protest, Rahul Gandhi took a direct aim at PM Modi saying he expresses his mann ki baat but does not let others do so, referring to PM Modi’s radio show ‘Mann ki Baat’.
“BJP has leaders who probably want to help you but they are a scared lot today. They think speaking out will damage them,” the Congress party vice president said.
“When Modi ji talks about Make in India, he actually refers to those five to six big industrialists. Traders associated with jewellery don’t have factories of Rs 10,000 crore. They have small units,” he added.
Congress party senior leaders Digvijaya Singh, Bhupender Hooda, Ajay Maken and other leaders were also present at the rally where people raised slogans against the BJP.
Speaking before Gandhi arrived, Digvijaya Singh urged the gathering of traders to support the Congress for the next “50 years” just as they had withdrawn their support in the wake of “Morarji Desai’s Gold Control Act”.
(With inputs from the PTI)