New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi addressed party general secretaries, state in-charges and heads of frontal organisation at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) Friday. Gandhi held Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “cavalier attitude” and “managing headlines and events” directly responsible for the economic slowdown.
“Finally, the consistent weakening of institutions, withholding of data and tampering with statistics have all resulted in the erosion of India’s economic credibility,” she said.
Read her full, unedited, speech below:
As a citizen and as a member of the responsible opposition, it pains me to see the Indian economy under siege. What is even more worrying is that the government is in complete denial. Instead of acknowledging the severe slowdown and looking for a comprehensive resolution, Prime Minister Modi is too busy managing headlines and events. This cavalier attitude comes at a high price, a price that millions of our fellow Indian especially the unemployed youth and farmers and fellow Indians are having to endure.
The economic crisis is worsening by the day. The GDP growth, is at best only 5 per cent during the first quarter. It is not just a six year low. This signifies deep crisis. This is a sign of weak demand, low consumption, no investment and, as a result no jobs. Unemployment levels at nearly 8.5 per cent is most disturbing. Far from creating jobs, recent studies now suggest that demonetization, a messed up GST and subsequent economic decisions of the Modi government have resulted in an unprecedented loss of 9 million jobs during the last 6 years.
I must also mention this government’s attitude to women and issues that concern them. No sooner than the recent assembly elections were over the government gives up the pretence of holding down the price of subsidized gas cylinder. It hiked the price by an enormous Rs. 77 per cylinder about 10% in one go.
Any reasonable assessment of the Indian economy must focus on the plight of our farmers. India’s rural economy has collapsed with growth rate hardly of 2 per cent in the first quarter. They were promised that their income would be doubled in a short period but are left to battling a deceleration in wages while prices have shot up. This perhaps explains why the sale of FMCG goods in rural India, has recently hit a 7-year low.
India’s economic woes are not confined to the domestic front. Inconsistent and defective policies have seen exports shrink at a time when India could have been a big beneficiary of the global trade wars.
As if the government’s economic decisions have not damaged the economy enough, it is now ready to deal a body blow to it by signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) – the regional free trade agreement of 16 Asian countries. This will result in untold hardship for our farmers, shopkeepers, small & medium enterprises with serious repercussions for the people. We can ill afford to become a dumping ground for products – including agricultural produce from foreign countries.
Finally, the consistent weakening of institutions, withholding of data and tampering with statistics have all resulted in the erosion of India’s economic credibility. It is unfortunate that economic experts who point this out are ridiculed and labeled anti-nationals. Independent thinking and even constructive criticism are arrogantly brushed aside. No sector of the economy has been left untouched by the slowdown – automobiles, banks, manufacturing, agriculture- of growth are all floundering. All the economic indicators point towards a slowdown that is likely to be prolonged and more entrenched in days ahead.
There are so many other issues of which you will be aware. The latest shocking revelation that through the Israeli Pegasus software acquired by the Modi government, snooping and spying activities on activists, journalists and political persons have taken place. These activities are not only illegal and un-constitutional, they are shameful.
It is for us, for the Congress party to take on these anti people policies and create awareness amongst them.