The Congress has never given India a PM who was a prisoner of his or her own image, said Rahul Gandhi at the party’s MPs’ meet.
Rahul Gandhi on Friday launched an all-out attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of practising TRP politics and said the country has suffered damage due to his “vanity”.
Addressing MPs at the Congress Parliamentary Party meeting in the absence of his mother Sonia Gandhi, who is indisposed, Rahul described the prime minister as being “a prisoner of his own image” and one who is inflicting “tremendous suffering” on the people of India to protect his own persona.
With the opposition attacking the prime minister for not hearing them out in Parliament over demonetisation, the Congress vice president said if Modi listened to the views of democratically elected members it could potentially prevent him from making the “catastrophic” policy mistakes he is currently making.
“We never gave India a prime minister who bypassed the experience of those sitting in the institutions. The country has suffered tremendous damage as a result of the vanity and incompetence of our PM,” he charged.
“The Congress never gave India a prime minister who was a prisoner of his own image. We never gave India a prime minister who was ready to inflict such tremendous suffering on the people of India to protect his own persona. We never gave India a prime minister who based his entire policy making strategy on TRPs.
“Listening to the voices of the people of this country is the only thing that can free him from the clutches of his own image and make him an effective prime minister. Yet he consistently refuses to do so,” he said.
Accusing Modi of single handedly declaring a war on the world’s fastest growing economy due to the “catastrophic experiment” of demonetisation which is “badly conceived and incompetently implemented”, he said its results will soon be revealed to the entire world.
“Every economist of repute has already condemned it and questioned its capacity to realise the goals it is supposed to achieve. Modiji has created a massive new corrupt black market that is working overtime to convert the black money to white,” he charged.
Gandhi said the PM “confused” India’s entire cash economy with black economy and demonetised 86 per cent of Indian bank notes and decided to experiment with the financial future of 1.3 billion people.
“All cash is not black money and all black money is not cash,” he said, adding that instead of attacking black money, he attacked the very foundations of the country’s economy.
Gandhi also accused Modi of sitting silently when Kashmir is burning and said he has “gifted massive political space” to anti-India forces by forging an alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party.
Rahul also attacked the prime minister over his policy towards Pakistan and said he is the same person who used to ridicule the United Progressive Alliance’s Pakistan policy that led to the isolation of Pakistan and brought peace to Kashmir.
“Today the same person who used to ridicule us sits silently while Kashmir burns. Narendra Modi will be judged by history as the man who gifted massive political space to anti-India forces by creating an opportunistic political alliance between the BJP and the PDP. He has created the political vacuum that gives the terrorists space to operate,” he said.
Accusing the government of getting itself into a “complete mess” with regards to Pakistan, the Congress leader said, “Their policy on Pakistan is a complete failure. Why must the people of India suffer long speeches and irresponsible statements while militants supported by Pakistan walk into our army bases and kill our jawans at will?”
Gandhi said Congress gave full support to government on the surgical strikes and will always support any action that helps India defeat terrorism.
“But policy cannot be based on ad hoc responses to events. The price of not thinking actions is simply too high. It is high time that the government develops a coherent strategy,” he said, adding the idea behind the strikes was to stop Pakistan from cross border attacks but there have been 21 major attacks after that instead.
It is not the prime minster or the defence minister who is paying the price, but the soldiers and their families, he said, noting that 85 soldiers have been martyred so far, the highest in a decade.
Recalling how terrorists walked into highly defended army base in Jammu and killed officers and men in cold blood, Gandhi asked, “Is the government not responsible for maintaining the security of our bases? Are these young men just statistics destined to gather dust in the records of the government of India? Does the government not owe them an apology?”
Gandhi said while GDP growth will be “devastated” due to demonetisation, which has also given a “body blow” to the poor with millions of migrant labourers and farmers having been “crushed” and industry “destroyed”.
Taking a dig at the government’s tax amnesty scheme, he said, “Cash has been snatched from the hands of our women and most disturbingly, people have lost the right to access their own hard earned money. The poor stand in line while the corrupt are been given a free bypass through the new income tax law.”
The Congress leader said a big portion of India’s poor use cash and they are honest, hard working people. He said farmers need cash to buy seeds, small shopkeepers need cash to trade their products, fishermen and daily labourers need cash, as also housewives who save cash to use it on a rainy day.
“It is a documented fact that only 6 per cent of black money is held in cash. The remaining 94 per cent is held in gold, real estate and dollars stashed abroad. This is well understood by the prime minister,” he said.
Gandhi recalled that in 2014, Modi had promised to bring back black money held in foreign banks and deposit 15 lakh rupees in every Indian bank account.
“How much money has he got back? Not one rupee. How many people has he put behind bars? Not one. He has clearly failed to deliver his promise,” he said.
He also said that as a responsible political party, Congress will keep the interests of the country foremost, but warned that “the next few weeks are going to be critical and we will do our best to support the nation as it struggles to overcome the shock it has received as a result of this badly conceived and incompetently implemented experiment”.
The Congress Parliamentary Party also condemned the terror attack on Nagrota base in the strongest possible terms.
The CPP also extended condolences to the families of soldiers, officers and civilians who have lost their lives to terrorists this year and said it was grateful for the tremendous sacrifice they have made to safeguard the nation.
Gandhi also paid homage and offered condolence to the families of 80 people died allegedly a result of demonetisation and to the victims of the train accident in Pukhrayan in Kanpur.