New Delhi, Jan. 11: Rahul Gandhi today said the message Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sent out with demonetisation was that institutions did not matter and that he alone was master of the destiny of all Indians.
In a speech lustily cheered by Congress delegates participating in the Jan Vedna Sammelan, Rahul argued that with his decision to scrap the old 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee notes - or 86 per cent of the total currency in circulation - Modi had told the country: "Your destiny is in my hands, only my hands. If you want a golden future, give me what I want. Give me your today, I will give you a better tomorrow."
The Congress vice-president went on: "Everybody is a fool. Only Modi knows, Modi will make the new India. This country is run by Modi and (RSS chief) Mohan Bhagwat. Who are you...? 'We can in a minute reduce the money you earned with your blood and toil into waste paper'."
The day-long convention was presided over by Rahul, with party chief Sonia Gandhi staying away in what is seen as a move to hand over the reins to him.
"This is an old fight between two philosophies: one that says daro mat (do not fear), the other which says daro aur darao (be afraid, and instil fear in others)."
Fear was a prerequisite for a totalitarian regime, Rahul said. "The Congress since pre-Independence taught people not to be fearful, and to stand up for their rights. The message of the Green Revolution and bank nationalisation was: Don't fear. The Food Security Act and MNREGA used the same idiom: Don't fear, we are with you. When the Modi government wanted to snatch land from farmers, we intervened to tell the farmers, 'Don't fear, we are with you'."
He continued: "But the very basis of the RSS politics is to create fear, spread fear everywhere. They then turn this fear into anger and create divisions in the society. They tell us to be scared of terrorism, Naxalism... fear is struck into tribals and Dalits when they fight for their rights...."
He hailed Congress workers for raising their voice against Modi's "false propaganda" on demonetisation.
"There is tremendous pain among the poor, the farmers, the daily-wage earners. For the first time an Indian Prime Minister is being ridiculed the world over. Modi is now jumping from one issue to another... Swachh Bharat, Make in India, Stand-up India, Start-up India, Digital India... He also did yoga at India Gate. But he can't hide behind these things," he said.
In his speech, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh warned that "the worst was yet to come" after demonetisation.
Former finance minister P. Chidambaram gave details of what he described as "the enormity of the calamity" caused by "the farce enacted by one person".
"India is paying for the monumental folly of one person. Three persons who should have been involved in this decision - the finance secretary, banking secretary and the chief economic adviser - did not know. Have you heard a word from them in the last 60 days? Only one person in the world, finance minister Arun Jaitley, says there will be no impact on the GDP. While the GDP growth will decline by minimum one per cent, which is Rs 1.5 lakh crore, it may go up to 2 per cent."
The Congress today announced the second phase of its campaign against demonetisation, which will include public meetings in villages, apart from gherao of all Reserve Bank of India regional offices on January 18.
A condolence resolution for all the people who have lost their lives because of the distress caused by demonetisation was adopted at the convention.