New Delhi, Jan 11
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday launched a blistering attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over note ban and asserted the country will get the BJP-promised "achhe din" when the Congress returns to power in 2019.
Besides calling Modi as the first Indian Prime Minister to be "ridiculed globally", Gandhi assailed him and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for weakening constitutional institutions and instilling fear among the people.
Addressing a party convention here ahead of the polls to assemblies in five states, Congress leaders including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Finance Minister P. Chidambaram warned of the adverse affects of demonetisation on the economy, saying "the worse is yet to come".
Packing punches one after the other, Gandhi not just usurped Modi's "acche din" (good days) slogan but even imitated his style of addressing to mock his demonetisation decision, which he said was "world's biggest financial experiment".
"Much like Amitabh Bacchan's dialogues in movies, the Prime Minister suddenly announced that all the Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes that you had were mere pieces of paper," said Gandhi, punctuating his address with "Mitron" (friends), often used by Modi in his public addresses.
Gandhi said the currency spike decision was an outcome of "whims" of Modi and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.
"Never before has every single economist of any repute said that the Prime Minister has taken an incompetent and badly thought out decision."
He accused the BJP, Modi and the RSS of ridiculing the Reserve Bank of India and its Governor and held them responsible for weakening constitutional institutions like the Election Commission and even the judiciary.
"Today, there is no institution in this country that is respected. The RSS and the BJP are under the impression that nobody's opinion matters in the country except their own," he said.
Gandhi, who has accused Modi of receiving kickbacks from corporate houses as the Gujarat Chief Minister, also questioned his continued silence over the charges.
"From surgical strikes to demonetisation, Modi keeps jumping from one thing to another and people wonder when 'acche din' (good days) will come."
"They will come when Congress comes to power again," said Gandhi, asserting the Congress will defeat the BJP and RSS's "ideology of creating fear".
"Modi through his policies is frightening the people and pocketing their money in the name of 'Lord Rama'. 'Ram naam japna, gareeb ka maal apna'," he said.
He also accused the Modi government of putting the media under "certain constraints" and urged it not to shy away from its responsibility of highlighting the people's pains.
"These people (BJP and RSS) think that they can rule by spreading hatred and fear among the people," said Gandhi, affirming his party's commitment to protecting the country's constitutional institutions.
"We are opposed to Modi and Bhagwat's mindset that only two-three people can run the country. We will defeat this mindset," added Gandhi.
Speaking at the convention, Manmohan Singh said: "Things have gone bad in the last two months, but worse is yet to come."
"The beginning of the end has come," cautioned the economist.
Chidambaram on his part questioned claims that a Cabinet meeting took place before November 8 announcement of the demonetisation and dared Modi to put to test his claims of demonetisation putting an end to black money, corruption and fake currency.
Pointing out that post-demonetisation, the country's growth rate forecast has come down from 7.6 per cent to 7 per cent, Chidambaram said for the loss of every one per cent in the GDP growth rate, the country "will face a loss of Rs 1.5 lakh crore".
Unamused by Gandhi's allegations, the BJP in turn mocked the Congress' aspirations of coming back to power.
"It is surprising to hear Gandhi's claims of 'achhe din' in 2019. Forget 2019, Congress will not come to power even in 2090," quipped Union minister and BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu.
Naidu's ministerial colleague Prakash Javadekar called Gandhi's allegations as "absurd" and blamed the Congress for destroying "constitutional institutions" in the country.