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NEW DELHI: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi termed demonetisation an “out and out disaster” and GST a torpedo that destroyed the economy, gearing up the party to launch “desh bhugat raha hai” campaign on ‘notebandi’s’ anniversary on November 8.
Attacking the ruling BJP for its decision to celebrate demonetisation, Rahul said, “The decision of demonetisation was an out-and-out disaster. The PM is yet not able to understand the pain of the nation. I don’t know what they are going to celebrate. November 8 is a sad day for us.”
Rahul accused Modi of giving back to back shocks to the country. “Demonetisation was the first torpedo which the country survived, but the second torpedo of GST destroyed it,” he added.
The strong words came after Congress vice-president in a meeting of AICC general secretaries decided to launch a nationwide campaign on the twin issues that the opposition blames for job losses and economic slowdown. The brainstorming which lasted over three hours included former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former finance minister P Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh and finance ministers of Congress-ruled states.
In what is set to turn the clash between opposition and Prime Minister Modi more personal, sources said Rahul gave the theme of the upcoming agitation by arguing that “Modi ne galti ki, lekin desh ke log bhugat rahe hain (Modi committed the mistake, but common man is suffering)”. He also touched upon his experience of people’s complaint against GST in poll-bound Gujarat.
During the meeting, former PM Manmohan Singh reiterated his high-octane attack on demonetisation he made in Parliament, this time, extending it to GST.
“While demonetisation was organised loot and legalised plunder, GST has ended up taking away livelihoods of ordinary people besides shutting down businesses,” AICC spokesman Randeep Surjewala quoted Singh as saying. Singh added GST has a “faulty design” and its “complication of compliances” has killed jobs and businesses.
On November 8, spokesman R P N Singh said Congress will hold public meetings across states during the day and at 8pm, when Modi announced notebandi a year ago, the party will hold candlelight marches at the district headquarters.
The lead opposition party will also hold conventions in states to “sensitise” people that GST was a “good idea destroyed”. The party will list a charter of demands on “GST’s flaws” — tax rates, compliance and exemptions for small businesses — which its state finance ministers will jointly seek at the GST Council. Arguing that “suffering poor” had seen through demonetisation, Punjab’s finance minister Manpreet Badal targeted Modi by saying, “No matter how glib you talk, you cannot make a hungry man believe that his stomach is full.”
Rahul has asked partymen to focus on how notebandi had hit the poor by taking away their jobs even though the Centre had sold it as a “panacea” for their woes.