Rahul Gandhi tells Congress to call ‘acche din bluff’, tap rising tide of anger against BJP
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday called upon party leaders and workers to tap the “rising tide of anger” against the BJP-led government, and work hard to give the people an alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “bogus promise of acche din (good days)”.
“We are meeting here today at a time when the crisis of governance in India under the Narendra Modi government – marked by corruption, total economic failure, incompetence and spread of social divisiveness – is at its peak,” he said, addressing a meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP).
“There is a rising tide of anger against the current ruling dispensation that calls upon all of us to work very hard to give the people of India the alternative they deserve – an alternative to the bogus promise of Modiji’s acche din,” he added.
Former party president and CPP chairperson Sonia Gandhi was not present at the meeting.
Raising doubts about the safety of women and children under the Modi government, Gandhi said: “Reports of mass rape of little girls at Muzaffarpur in Bihar are horrifying. Lawmakers and leaders of the BJP and NDA are protecting the culprits.”
The women’s reservation bill will “remain a piece of paper” unless it was brought in the monsoon session of Parliament, he added.
Gandhi also attacked the Modi government over the Rafale aircraft deal with France, terming it as the “corruption of the century”. “The Rafale scam, involving over Rs 1.3 lakh crore of public money and designed to bail out debt-ridden corporate cronies of Modiji, is symbolic of the true ‘sanskar’ of this government – Raam Naam Japna, Paraya Maal Apna,” he alleged.
The party president reiterated his accusation that the present dispensation was purchasing the Rafale jet at Rs 1,670 crore per aircraft when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had finalised the price at Rs 570 crore in its 2012 deal. He also questioned the motive behind transferring the offset contract from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to the Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Defence Limited.
As many as 36 Rafale jets will be delivered to India between September 2019 and April 2022 as part of an inter-governmental pact signed with France in September 2016.
Alleging that gross NPAs (non-performing assets) have risen from Rs 2.6 lakh crore to Rs 11 lakh crore in the last four years, he said: “Instead of getting the money back from a handful of industrialists who have looted over Rs 8 lakh crore from the banks, Modiji’s government is busy writing off their loans.”
He cited the case of businessman Nirav Modi, who drew Rs 35,000 crore in loans before fleeing the country, to illustrate his point. “Instead of catching thieves like Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya, Modiji gave (Gitanjali Gems chief) Mehul ‘Bhai’ Choksi a clean chit in November 2017 – enabling him to obtain Antiguan citizenship. This ‘Bhai’ looted the PNB (Punjab National Bank) of Rs 13,000 crore before scooting from India,” Gandhi asserted.
While the Congress president admitted that the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government had initiated work on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam to fulfill the commitment made in the Assam accord of 1985, he accused the BJP governments at the central and state levels of executing the Rs 1,200-crore exercise in a “tardy” manner. “The most important and urgent issue before the nation today is the crisis created by the botched and insensitive implementation of the NRC. The manner in which this exercise was undertaken has left millions of innocent citizens living in fear of being thrown out of their own country,” he said.
Gandhi said anti-social groups that indulge in public lynchings have no fear of the law under the Modi administration. He also spoke on the agrarian crisis and the alleged rise in unemployment, besides the “shoddy” implementation of the demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax initiatives.
“In 2014, Modiji said that India had been a slow ‘passenger train’ for 70 years, and it will become a sleek and shining ‘magical train’ destined for ‘acche din’ under his rule. But four years later, India looks more like a train that is being driven to disaster by an autocratic, incompetent and arrogant driver who does not care what happens to the passengers he is responsible for,” he said. “The people of India are demanding change. They will no longer be fooled by your magical train that is headed for a bad accident.”
The Congress president went on to allege that there has been a “systematic attack” on every single institution of the country ever since the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and BJP came to power. “In modern India, these institutions were called temples of democracy. Today, the RSS is intent on destroying every single one of them. Every single institution is being penetrated by their people and the nature of the institutions itself is being changed,” he said.
According to Gandhi, the people of India are counting on the Congress and its allies to help replace the Modi regime with a government that listens to them, understands their problems and provides solutions for issues such as poverty, unemployment and inequality in the country. “There is a great responsibility being placed on all of us today. We are meant to win this historic battle between the forces of democracy and social justice and those of autocracy and social hierarchy,” he told party MPs. “We have to ensure that the forces of hate, division and violence that are trampling on the Constitution are prevented from coming back to power.”
Gandhi asserted that the Congress has multiple responsibilities to fulfill in the current scenario. “We have to restore hope in the eyes of the Indian farmers and youth about their right to decent incomes and a dignified life. We have to give relief to ordinary families being crushed under the dual burden of household debt and rising prices of essential goods. We have to ensure the safety of Indian women. We have to ensure the protection of our Dalit brothers and sisters, and ensure that they get justice,” he said.