Narendra Modi, who had kicked up a storm when a cooking gas cylinder cost Rs 410 but saw the price skyrocket to Rs 1,100 on his watch as Prime Minister, was on Friday accused of “raising an edifice of power on false promises and people’s miseries”.
As the NDA government celebrated completing nine years in power, the Congress asked nine questions to expose its “failures”. A “report card” the party issued accused Modi of fooling the people with falsehoods, saying this was best manifested through the scourge of inflation.
Rahul Gandhi too tweeted: “The BJP raised an edifice of power over the last nine years on false promises and people’s miseries. The Prime Minister should take responsibility for his failures — mahngai, nafrat aur berozgari (high prices, hate and unemployment).”
The Congress’s report card said: “The prices of all essential commodities have relentlessly risen since 2014, even though oil prices have fallen from $100/ barrel to $70/ barrel over the same period. Youth unemployment has risen to 30-40 per cent, while real wages have fallen for the poor.
“This is a disastrous record. Demonetisation and GST destroyed small businesses without eliminating black money, and Demonetisation 2.0 announced recently is a fresh reminder of your government’s heartless approach.”
The party said that diesel prices had jumped from Rs 55 to Rs 90 a litre, mustard oil prices from Rs 90 to Rs 143, wheat and flour prices from Rs 22 to Rs 35 and milk prices from Rs 35 to Rs 53.
“Why are inflation and unemployment skyrocketing in India? Why have the rich become richer and the poor become poorer? Why is public property being sold to Modi’s friends even as economic disparities are increasing?” the Congress asked.
Party communications chief Jairam Ramesh announced 35 news conferences across the country over the next two days to highlight the nine questions, which deal with a range of subjects from prices and joblessness to the attack on democracy, crony capitalism, China and Covid mismanagement.
Congress media department chief Pawan Khera said Modi should observe a “mafi divas” (apology day) and apologise for having betrayed every section of society with falsehoods and propaganda.
“We are asking questions about the last nine years. They should not drag us 900 years behind,” he said, alluding to the BJP’s tendency to invoke its own version of history to divert people’s attention from bread-and-butter issues.
Party social media head Supriya Shrinate said economic distress had acquired the form of a tragedy for a large number of people but the government was oblivious to their misery and boastful of its achievements.
Referring to Modi’s promise of creating 2 crore jobs a year, she said that instead of creating “18 crore jobs in nine years”, Modi had been reduced to distributing merely a few thousand appointment letters, “which is usually done by the postman”.
The report card dwelt on nine subjects: the economy, agriculture and farmers, corruption and cronyism, China and national security, social harmony, social justice, democracy and federalism, welfare schemes, and Covid-19 mismanagement.
The party questioned the failure to double farmers’ income as promised, honour agreements made to them while repealing the three controversial farm laws, and provide a legal guarantee for MSP.
On corruption and cronisym, the report card said: “Why are you putting people’s hard-earned savings in LIC and SBI at risk to benefit your friend Adani? Why are you letting thieves escape? Why are you silent on rampant corruption in BJP-ruled states?”
The Congress targeted Modi’s record on national security, trying to puncture his government’s hype as a practitioner of muscular nationalism.
“Why is it that even after your clean chit to China in 2020, they continue to occupy Indian territory? 18 meetings have been held with China, yet why do they refuse to yield Indian territory and instead continue with their aggressive tactics?” it said.
“Your silence on the 1,500sqkm of Indian territory controlled by China since 2020 speaks (of) your complete failure on the national security front. Even as China becomes more aggressive and makes unreasonable demands on our sovereignty, the government has been sitting idle. There is no national security strategy nine years after your government took office, and defence spending is at a multi-decade low.”
The party asked why the families of those who died of Covid-19 had not received compensation, and why the Modi government had suddenly imposed a lockdown that left lakhs without work but had not provided any support.
The report card dwelt on the introduction of the Agnipath scheme that the Congress said would harm the armed forces; the weakening of the welfare infrastructure including the reduction of the budget for the job rural guarantee scheme; the use of a new citizenship matrix as a tool for religious discrimination; the engineering of defections to pull down state governments; and the misuse of central agencies against political opponents.