The Congress took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the sharp drop in the value of the Rupee and wondered which of the two — the BJP or the Indian currency — will fall lower.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari also asked as to who was the country’s finance minister, saying one is “acting” to be the FM, while the other is “pretending” to be so, an apparent dig at Piyush Goyal and Arun Jaitley.
He also attacked the government over the move to legalise betting, saying this was the government’s priority at a time when the country’s economy was in “shambles”. Tewari also claimed that there is erosion of confidence in the banking sector due to the numerous multi-crore scams that have taken place in the country in recent past and that it is reflected in the reduction in the savings rate.
“We would like to ask the Prime Minister that there seems to be a competition between the BJP and the Rupee and the competition is – who will fall lower,” he asked.
Recalling Modi’s tweet questioning the fall in rupee during the UPA regime, Tewari said at that time Sushma Swaraj, now the External Affairs Minister, had tweeted saying – “the Rupee has lost its value and the Prime Minister has lost his grace”.
“We think that the Prime Minister’s tweet of 2013 and the External Affairs Minister’s tweet around the same time apply very squarely to the BJP today,” Tewari said.
The Indian rupee hit a record closing low of 68.95 on Thursday. Alleging that social disharmony has put brakes on economic development, Tewari cited the rise in cases of lynching in the country saying “window-dressing” of the economic achievements will not help even if the government tries so.
“We have been saying this repeatedly that social discord acts as a brake on economic development. Social disharmony and economic development cannot go hand in hand,” he said, alleging that in the past one year 27 people have been lynched across nine states.
“When lynching becomes the overriding headline day after day, month after month, which was absent before the NDA-BJP Government assumed office, it clearly shows that as long as there is social discord, there cannot be any economic development, howsoever much the government may try and window dress its economic achievements,” he said.
On legalising betting, he said, at a time when the economy is down the priority seems to be that of legalising betting in sports.
“When there is huge economic distress across the length and breadth of the country, agrarian distress, unemployment, jobs not being created, what is the NDA-BJP Government obsessed or its instrumentalities obsessed with? How do you legalise betting in sport,” he said.
Tewari also said the reason why most states do not have lottery or the fact that lottery is banned is because of the extremely negative social implications of the vices of gambling.
“If you legalise betting in sports, not only will you destroy the sport, you will turn every ‘Paan shop’ of this country into a ‘juye ka adda’ (gambling den),” he said. Taking a dig at the finance minister, he said, “All this happens because the Finance Ministry has fallen between two stools. So, therefore, you have an acting Finance Minister and you have a pretending Finance Minister.
“So the acting one does not know whether he is acting and the pretending one does not know whether he is pretending.”
He claimed the country’s economy is “like a rudderless boat on a very choppy ocean”.
“It is high time that the NDA-BJP Government and the Prime Minister realize the consequences which the country will have to face because of their mal-governance and mal-administration of the Indian economy,” he said.
Tewari cited the RBI data which suggests that deposit growth in banks has slowed down by 7.59 pc year on year, saying it signifies an erosion of people’s confidence in the banking system.
“When the rate of deposit growth slows down, it is indicative that because of the kind of gross mismanagement that you have seen in the Banking sector, the manner in which non-performing assets have been spiralling, there is an erosion of confidence amongst the depositors in the Banking sector, something which has never ever happened,” he said.
He also took on the prime minister for quoting EPFO data to claim that in 2017-18, 70 lakh new jobs have been created.
He said the revised EPFO data shows that between September and March 2017-18, EPFO enrolments actually fell by 12.58 pc, which translates to a fall of 4.95 lakh in absolute terms.
“We would like to ask the Prime Minister that if on the basis of this data, you are asserting that 70 lakh new jobs have been created, then are you prepared to concede now, that if the data has been revised, it means either people have become unemployed or that data in the first place was incorrect.
“You can’t run with the hare and hunt with the hound,” he said, asking the prime minister to wither admit that the data is wrong or concede that there is job loss in formal sector.