NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi government is busy celebrating its two-year anniversary at a time drought-hit farmers are committing suicide, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said on Saturday as his party released a booklet to puncture the NDA’s development claims.
At a rally in the Capital, Gandhi accused the government of practicing the politics of “lie and false promises”, highlighting the drought crisis in Maharashtra where five farmers have killed themselves this week, taking the toll to 150 since January.
“Farmers are dying due to drought and a celebration is being held at India Gate where people from Bollywood have come, songs and dance have been arranged,” Gandhi said.
His comments came hours after the Congress accused NDA of failing to create jobs and control skyrocketing prices.
But the main opposition party offered to work with the government if the NDA gathered the courage to push through reforms, rekindling hopes of the landmark goods and services tax bill passing Parliament.
“There is good reason why the mood of the people is somber and sullen – The reason lies in one word – the economy. There are no jobs,” former finance minister P Chidambaram said after releasing the booklet -- Pragati ki tham gai chaal, do saal-desh ka bura haal” (Development stalled in two years, country in deep trouble. “The most notable failure of the Modi government has been in job creation.”
The Congress attack came as the government went all out to highlight its achievements, roping in Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan to host the India Gate event and ministers dominating airtime with televised interviews.
But the opposition party didn’t appear impressed with Chidambaram asking the NDA to initiate bold economic reforms as it had the majority in the Lok Sabha.
“The Congress party is willing to be engaged if the government means business,” he said. “We cannot prescribe policy solutions. We can only advise and nudge the government to go in the right direction.”
The offer came in spite of a bitter confrontation between the two sides in and outside Parliament over contentious legislation such as the land acquisition bill.
In the 60-page booklet, the Congress attacked the government over its “failures” on issues such as corruption, alleged clampdown on students and bringing back black money.
Chidambaram also said the agriculture was in distress, there were no jobs, the industry was in a slump and exports were down for the 17th successive month.
“Nobody seems to care. The average citizens need jobs and incomes. They do not consume GDP numbers,” he said. “The citizens of this country will drop their own score cards. What is there to celebrate?”
Chidambaram also sought to drive a wedge between the ruling NDA partners by pointing to the Shiv Sena’s repeated criticism of the government.
“The BJP is celebrating two years of the NDA government. I said BJP because its partners, notably the Shiv Sena, have not joined the celebrations. On the contrary, the Shiv Sena has been extremely critical of the BJP,” he said.