Sonia Gandhi accuses Modi govt of sharing a close affinity with lynch mobs
Expressing grave concern at the rise of lynch mobs across the country, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on 6 May accused the ruling establishment of sharing a close ideological affinity with the mobs that have been attacking people on mere suspicion without any regard for the law of the land.
At a time when BJP is celebrating completing three years in power, the Congress president has pointed out how women, Dalits, adivasis, minorities and other oppressed people are facing perilous times.
Presiding over the meeting of the Congress Working Committee, the party's highest decision-making body, Sonia criticised the Narendra Modi government for whipping up divisive issues, which has led to an assault on livelihoods and food habits of those who follow different tenets and beliefs.
“This government is using the power of the state to stifle voices that express different thoughts and ideas, or speak out for alternative policies and philosophies. Whether it is politicians, institutions, students, civil society or the media, there is growing intolerance and active persecution of divergent voices in blatant disregard of the law of the land,” she said, while slamming the NDA government for letting harmony and tolerance give way to discord and provocation.
Adding to this, she spoke of how the ruling dispensation is seeking to destroy the essence of India; how the downward spiral reflects in not only the economy, but also peace and diversity.
Convened with the purpose of discussing the prevailing political situation in the country, the upcoming elections to the post of President and Vice President also featured during the meet.
A downward spiral
In her opening remarks, the Congress president launched a scathing attack on the Modi government and said, “Where there was harmony, there is discord. Where there was tolerance, there is provocation. Where there was relative calm, as in Kashmir, there is growing confrontation, tension and fear. Where there was economic potential, there is stagnation. Where there was rich diversity, there is a brazen campaign to strait-jacket the whole country into a regressive and narrow-minded world-view.”
Criticising the government's move to ban high currency notes, she added that the there is no clarity on how much demonetised currency in circulation was actually returned to the banks.
“It isn't that the Reserve Bank of India has forgotten how to count money; it is that the actual numbers show that the scheme was a disaster. The recently released growth figures prove that Dr Manmohan Singh's forecast that demonetisation would slow down economic growth was correct,” she said.
Singh, who spoke after Sonia, pointed at the recently released GDP numbers and blamed demonetisation for slowing down country's economic growth, which has also led to a steep and sustained fall in the Gross Value Added (GVA) – a true sub-measure of economic activity. “The GVA growth of industry has fallen from 10.7% in March 2016 to just 3.8% in March 2017, a decline of nearly seven percentage points of growth,” the former prime minister said.
Citing the rising increase in unemployment, Singh claimed that jobs are hard to come by and the construction industry, which is the largest employment generators in the country, has suffered a contraction which implies loss of million jobs across the country.
During the course of the meeting, upcoming elections of president and vice-president did come up for a discussion for a brief while and the CWC agreed to stand firmly with the opposition on picking a consensus candidate. In this regard, the Congress president announced the formation of a sub-committee for the presidential elections which will meet in a week's time.
Speaking to the media, party general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad said that few days ago the Congress president held a luncheon meeting with the leaders of opposition parties where the decision to zero down on a consensus candidate was left to her. According to him, the sub committee would discuss on the future course of the action as far as the two elections are concerned.
“In times such as these, it is even more essential that those who occupy this august office protect the Constitution. Dr Manmohan Singh, Rahul, other colleagues and I have met the leaders of like-minded parties to find commonly acceptable candidates for these high offices. A subgroup of representatives has been constituted to take this forward,” she added.
The CWC also ratified that the organisational elections should be completed by 31 December as directed by the Election Commission. The process of internal elections kick-started after EC gave the grand old party six more months to finish the elections by the end of this year.
However, there is still confusion over whether Rahul would take over from his mother who has taken a back seat from party's internal matters. The issue didn't come up for discussion even during the CWC meeting. Congress has earlier issued an organisational poll schedule wherein the election of the party president has to be held between 16 September and 15 October.
Earlier in November 2016, the CWC had unanimously urged Rahul to take over as president claiming the time was right for him to take over. But there have been no developments on that front till now.
After the new president is elected, the final phase will end with the plenary session, where elections to the CWC will be held in either November or December. It is to be noted that 12 of the 25 CWC members are elected by AICC members, while the rest are the prerogative of the president. The party's last plenary session was held at Burari in UP in 2010.
A bagful of worries
The other issues that came up for discussion included rising umemployment, farmer suicides, BJP's efforts to destabilise Congress governments and the unrest in Kashmir. Azad claimed that the government has adopted the policy of confrontation and alienation which according to his is wrong.
Sonia, however, called the Jammu & Kashmir crisis a colossal failure of the government and said, “The insensitive handling of the situation by both the State and Central governments are systematically alienating and antagonizing the local population especially the youth. A divisive agenda is being followed which has undone years of goodwill and progress. A large number of jawans and civilians have lost their lives or have been injured, young people have even been blinded.”
She went on to claim that it is imperative of the government to address the crisis, correct its flawed approach, works in earnest to rebuild and restore normalcy to regain the trust of the people. A small group of party leaders under the chairmanship of Singh will keep abreast of the situation in the Valley, she added.