New Delhi : Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday mounted a strong attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying his government had poisoned political discourse, was “anti-farmer” and “arrogant” and “a government of some people, by one person, for a select few”.
Addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party meeting here, Gandhi said the Modi government had very little to showcase after one year in office.
“Behind the smokescreen of ‘development’, the government is providing ‘achche din’ (good days) only for crony capitalists. Under the pretext of ‘Make in India’, the government is planning to dilute the rights and interests of workers and labourers. Do they make nothing in India,” Gandhi asked.
Asking the government about the reality of its promised “achche din”, Gandhi said the ruling dispensation deserved credit for the “most anti-farmer legislative amendments to our land acquisition bill”.
“They deserve credit for ignoring the severe plight of farmers throughout the country in a show of callous unconcern that has never been seen before,” she said.
She said the government can be given credit for “transforming our nation into a land where every day we hear of places of worship of minorities being desecrated”.
“We can give them credit for making Indians feel unsafe in India and for poisoning the political discourse of our great country,” she said.
Gandhi said there was no substantial economic achievement as job creation has slowed down, eight core sectors of economy have registered negative growth, investment in manufacturing was declining and exports have fallen.
“Truly, the hypocricy and insensitivity of the government is breathtaking. The prime minister announces grandiose schemes to grab headlines while the finance minister (Arun Jaitley) denies adequate funds to them and starves critical programmes that benefit the poor and weaker sections.”
“At the same time, he announces a generous bonanza for the corporate sector — tax cuts amounting to nearly Rs.2,50,000 crore over the next four years,” she said.
Gandhi said the government appears to favour a limited set of corporate interests to the exclusion of almost everyone else.
“India’s future cannot be built on such unjust foundations. The challenge for us is very clear. We are faced with a government which assaults everything precious that India and Congress party stand for. We have to fight back.”
She said Modi and his government were still in ‘poll campaign mode’ as if the elections were not yet over.
She also accused Modi of playing domestic politics on foreign soil and alleged that he attacked the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and former prime minister Manmohan Singh during his recent visit to France.
“In Canada, he sank to a new low by referring to the UPA in despicable terms. This outrageous remark on foreign soil belittles the dignity of the office he holds and is an embarrassment to the nation,” she said.
Gandhi said the Modi government was the “most centralised government in India’s recent history” where ministers hardly mattered and bureaucrats felt paralysed because all key decisions were pending in the PMO for decision.
Referring to some decisions concerning Congress-ruled Arunchal Pradesh and Assam, Gandhi said Modi talks of consensus, but ignoring convention, his government acts with “obstinate arrogance”.
Gandhi alleged that a “stream of provocative comments” from members of the ruling establishment continues unabated and “incendiary remarks” were often uttered even by ministers against entire communities and institutions of democracy.
“Some in the Sangh Parivar want to revoke the voting rights of a community. Others want to erect statues of (Nathuram) Godse, the man who murdered the Father of the Nation (Mahatma Gandhi),” she said.
She said centralisation of power was not new to Modi and wondered if a “draconian” anti-terror bill passed by the BJP-led government in Gujarat will be replicated at the centre.
She said special status for some hilly and northeastern states has been done away with.
“Many states, even BJP-ruled ones, have seen through the game and have protested.”
“We can give this government credit for strengthening one man’s power while weakening the strength of the state,” she said.
Making a mention of her son and party vice president Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi said he and party workers had highlighted distress of farmers inside and outside parliament.
She termed the party’s ‘kisan-khet-mazdoor rally’ last month as a “resounding success” and said it was a huge morale booster and “demonstrates our capabilities when we work together as a team”.