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Rahul Gandhi blames GST, unemployment for attacks on migrant workers in Gujarat

The Congress chief said migrant workers were “critical to our economic growth” and attacks on them created an environment of fear and insecurity that wasn’t good for the economy.

india Updated: Oct 09, 2018 23:23 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rahul Gandhi,migrant workers,Gujarat migrant workers
Congress president Rahul Gandhi addresses a public meeting, at Bayana in Bharatpur on October 9.(PTI Photo)

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday linked attacks on migrant workers in Gujarat to larger economic issues including rising unemployment, urging the government to act decisively to restore peace and ensure safety.

“Poor economic policies, demonetisation and a poorly-implemented GST (Goods and Services Tax) led to closure of factories and rise in unemployment that is being manifested in violent attacks on migrants across Gujarat,” Gandhi wrote in a Facebook post.

“Amongst the youth there is growing frustration and anger with the government’s inability to create jobs. This anger and frustration is being manifested in violent attacks on migrants, across the state of Gujarat,” the post read.

The rape of a toddler in Sabarkantha district last week, allegedly by a migrant, has triggered attacks on workers from outside the state employed in Gujarat. The attacks have caused some migrant workers to flee the state, triggering concerns that industrial production would be hurt in the run-up to the festive period.

Gandhi has been critical of the November 2016 decision to demonetise high-value banknotes that took out 86% of the currency in circulation and the July 2017 implementation of GST that replaced a raft of local levies with one direct indirect tax; some experts have described GST’s implementation as flawed.

The Congress chief said migrant workers were “critical to our economic growth” and attacks on them created an environment of fear and insecurity that wasn’t good for the economy. Later, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) governments in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh.

Claiming that over 50,000 migrant workers had fled Gujarat since the violence broke out a few days ago, Tiwari said while the Vijay Rupani government (in Gujarat) was unwilling to prevent violence on migrants, the Uttar Pradesh and Bihar governments had given a “clean chit” to the BJP dispensation in Gujarat.

Tewari also questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence and demanded an apology from Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath for claiming that no attacks had taken place on migrants from his state in Gujarat. “The situation in Gujarat is extremely volatile. It seems the Gujarat government is both incapable and unwilling to stop these incidents which have now spread to central Gujarat,” he told reporters.

“Ridiculousness and preposterousness have touched a new high. To please the Prime Minister, the chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, instead of empathising with their people and trying to prevail upon the central and Gujarat governments to act, are in an overdrive giving a clean chit to the Gujarat government,” Tewari said.

Adityanath’s recently claimed that there was not a “single incident of attack” on migrants from Uttar Pradesh in Gujarat and that such reports were rumours being spread by those jealous of Gujarat’s success.

The Congress leader also referred to Bihar additional director general of police SK Singhal’s remarks that migrant workers were not fleeing Gujarat, rather returning home for festivals. “People are fleeing Gujarat in fear and Adityanath claims no such violence. What is more shocking is Singhal saying they are coming back because of festivals,” he said.

Reacting to the claims, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said the Congress was resorting to violent tactics to“launch” Gandhi’s career, claiming that it will never happen because the Opposition leader had “no credibility” and “lacked substance”.

He further cited the Patidar quota stir in Gujarat before the assembly polls in the state, farmers’ unrest in Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh last year and the Bhima-Koregaon violence in Maharashtra, among other incidents to accuse the Congress of stoking unrest before elections.

“Whenever Rahul Gandhi gets an opportunity, he indulges in politics of breaking the society,” Patra added.

First Published: Oct 09, 2018 23:23 IST