RCEP pact will deal body blow to Indian economy: Sonia Gandhi

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UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Photo: Facebook.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday (November 2) launched a blistering attack on the government’s economic policies and said signing the RCEP agreement will deal a “body blow” to the economy, resulting in “untold hardship” for farmers, shopkeepers and small enterprises.

She also accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being too busy “managing headlines and events”, instead of acknowledging the “severe slowdown” and looking for a comprehensive resolution.

Addressing a meeting of general secretaries, heads of frontal organisations and senior leaders at the AICC headquarters here, Gandhi said as a citizen and as a member of a responsible opposition, it pains her 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,” the Congress chief said.

She claimed that the “cavalier attitude” comes at a price, “a price that millions of our fellow Indian, especially the unemployed youth and farmers and fellow Indians are having to endure”.

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“As 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 (RCEP) agreement – the regional free trade agreement of 16 Asian countries,” Gandhi said.

This will result in untold hardship for farmers, shopkeepers, and small and medium enterprises, she claimed.

Her remarks come as negotiations to finalise the long-overdue RCEP enters the final stages. All eyes are on India whether it will finally take the plunge and agrees to the world’s largest trading deal spanning 16-Asia Pacific nations.

In her address, Gandhi also said, “The latest shocking revelation is 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,” she said.

“Far from creating jobs, recent studies now suggest that demonetisation, 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,” Gandhi said.

The meeting was organised to fix the party’s strategy for its scheduled agitation to highlight the BJP government’s “failure”.

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The Congress plans to hit streets from November 5 to 15 to highlight the “failures” of the BJP government in the Centre on issues such as “economic slowdown, rising unemployment and farm crisis”.

The agitations would be held in all state capitals, and district headquarters.

Gandhi said 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,” she alleged.

The Congress leader said no sector of the economy has been left untouched and all the economic indicators point towards a slowdown that is likely to be prolonged and more entrenched in days ahead.

Gandhi said it is for the Congress party to take on these anti-people policies and create awareness amongst them.

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