Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi unleashed one of his most stinging attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, saying he has “destroyed the soul of India” in the past two and a half years of his rule.
In his opening remark at a day-long convention, Jan Vedna Sammelan, Gandhi said Modi had turned the hard-earned money of the people of this country into paper through his demonetisation decision.
“He has broken the financial backbone of this country with demonetisation. This was his personal decision,” Gandhi, who has been at the forefront of the opposition’s protest against the government move, said.
Addressing the party convention at Delhi’s Talkatora Stadium in Hindi and English, Gandhi said Modi and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat have weakened every institution in the country such as the judiciary, the Reserve Bank of India, the election commission and the media.
“The RBI that is the financial bedrock of the country has been ridiculed. The governor of RBI has been ridiculed…only because the RSS and the BJP think no one’s opinion matters other than their own,” he said.
“Achhe din are going to come when the Congress comes back to power in 2019,” the 45-year-old told the meeting convened to discuss the demonetisation exercise, which triggered uproar in the recently concluded winter session of Parliament.
After a string of election losses, the Congress is gearing up for a tough fight in assembly polls in five states in about a month and has stepped up the heat on the National Democratic Alliance administration over the note ban.
PM Modi’s surprise announcement to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on November 8 sparked chaos and confusion across the country, with millions of consumers queued outside banks and ATMs to change old notes for new ones or withdraw cash.
The government said the move was aimed at rooting out black money and corruption, but met with resistance from the Opposition, which blamed the government for close to 100 deaths reported after the shock move.
Gandhi has alleged that the note ban and the subsequent cash crunch had hurt farmers and the rural poor, and ravaged the agrarian economy. He has been at the forefront of attacks against the PM and the NDA government on the demonetisation issue that had also brought several opposition parties together.
The Congress party launched a three-phased nationwide campaign against the note ban on January 1. While the first phase of protest demonstrations and news conferences across the country is over, the main opposition party will launch the second phase from Wednesday.
The Amethi MP had last month called the move as a “single biggest arbitrary decision” by any Prime Minister in the history of the world taken by an individual affecting the lives of 1.3 billion people.
Gandhi also hit out at Modi’s allegations that the Congress had ruined the country in 70 years, saying party workers have sacrificed their lives in states such as Punjab and Assam.
“The PM keeps asking us what the Congress has done in past 70 years. I want to tell him the people of this country know what we did or did not in all these years. We never weakened the institutions and sacrificed our sweat and blood for our nation,” he said.
“How many BJP workers have spilled their blood? We don’t need to explain what we did.”
The Congress V-P took a jibe at the PM’s initiatives of Swachch Bharat, Make in India, Startup India and Skill India and his campaign for yoga. “It was a beautiful show but not Padmasana without which there is no yoga.”