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Congress slams Narendra Modi for ongoing rupee weakness

Party blames Centre's wrong economic policies for current crisis

Sanjay K. Jha New Delhi Published 16.07.22, 02:08 AM
Narendra Modi.

Narendra Modi. File picture

The Congress on Friday said the Centre’s inability to restore investor confidence might be a key reason for the rupee's weakness and recalled Narendra Modi's remark, made before he became Prime Minister, that currencies fall only in countries with corrupt rulers.

With the rupee now threatening to breach the 80-mark, the Congress has played videos at news conferences showing how Modi had as Gujarat chief minister mocked the then Manmohan Singh government over the rupee's fall.


However, the Congress has desisted from paying Modi back in his own coin, citing only financial reasons and blaming wrong economic policies for the current crisis.

Party spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said that economic woes, crony capitalism, soaring inflation and the failure to restore investor confidence were the likely reasons hindering a recovery by the Indian currency.

The only political comment she made was: "Modi rupaye ke liye hanikarak hai (Modi is injurious to the rupee)."

The rupee was trading at Rs 58 against the dollar in 2014 when the BJP government assumed office, and has kept going downhill since then. But neither Manmohan Singh nor the then finance minister, P. Chidambaram, has ever tried to settle scores by humiliating Modi with personal attacks over this.

Rahul Gandhi too refrained from casting personal aspersions, tweeting: "The country is sinking in the abyss of despondency. These are your words, Mr Prime Minister? You created so much noise those days. Now you are silent when the rupee is falling fast."

In a video clip, Modi is heard saying: "The country of 125 crore people is sinking into the abyss of despair. The rupee is weakening very fast. But there are no indications of government action. At times, it appears, there is a competition between the government in Delhi and the rupee - whose honour is falling faster? Who will stoop lower?"

Rahul was more acerbic in another tweet that highlighted the job crisis.

Posting a chart showing how unemployment among the youth had doubled between 2017 and 2022, he said: "Misled. Betrayed. Cheated. Prime Minister, can India's unemployed youth use these 'unparliamentary' words for your lies?"

Rahul was referring to recent additions to the official list of unparliamentary expressions - which the Opposition feels are aimed at gagging any criticism of the Prime Minister in the House - while alluding to Modi's promise of creating 2 crore jobs every year.

Shrinate said: "Today, the lurking suspicion aroused by the free fall of the rupee is whether Modi is preparing to hit a century with our currency, too, just like he has done with petrol."

Petrol prices crossed Rs 100 a litre for the first time under Modi's leadership.

"Before 2014, Modi claimed that a strong Prime Minister was needed to strengthen the rupee. Now the strong Prime Minister has proven to be the most toxic and harmful for the currency," Shrinate said.

"But for how long will the Prime Minister keep hiding behind the corona(virus) and the Ukraine war? Because of the rupee's weakness, the backbreaking inflation will increase even more rapidly."

Shrinate highlighted how the Congress had reversed a decline of the rupee in 2013.

"The government is falsely citing international conditions to defend the free fall of the currency. During the taper tantrum of the United States in 2013, when foreign investors started leaving India, the rupee had fallen from 58 per dollar to 69 per dollar between May and August," she said.

"But the UPA government and the then RBI governor, Raghuram Rajan, together handled the rupee with a multipronged approach - they not only brought the rupee back to 58 per dollar within four months, they also increased the GDP growth from 5.1 per cent to 6.9 per cent within a year. Against the foreign investment of $12 billion that had flown out of the country, foreign investment worth $35 billion came back to India in the same year."

She added: "From January (this year) till today, the RBI has tried to strengthen the rupee by spending about $40 billion --- so why has it failed? Because, the investors do not have even the slightest faith in the policies of the Modi government."

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