Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said common citizens were suffering and not getting any return for their hard work under the rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and once again targeted the Centre over the 2016 demonetisation exercise and poor implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
He said the Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, which is in Maharashtra currently, was aimed at standing against what he called the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s policies of “spreading fear and hatred”.
“Farmers, labourers toil hard but get no return under the Modi regime,” Gandhi said, addressing a rally as part of the yatra, which is led by him, on Mondha ground in Nanded in central Maharashtra.
The Centre’s policies of demonetisation (2016) and faulty implementation of the GST (2017) had broken the back of Indian economy and destroyed small and medium businesses which generate large-scale employment, said the Lok Sabha MP from Kerala.
“Six years have passed after demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, but black money still remains in circulation. Policies are being devised to spread fear among people. Farmers are not getting MSP for their produce or waiver of their agri loans,” Gandhi said.
He maintained the Bharat Yodo Yatra, which started in Tamil Nadu on September 7 and entered the fourth day in Maharashtra, was moving ahead due to the love and affection showered by common people.
“Even after walking for 24km daily, we don’t feel tired because the strength of the country is with us,” said the former Congress president.
Gandhi claimed the Centre’s policies were instilling fear among people and the BJP was using that emotion to spread hatred.
“The yatra is meant to stand up against such tendencies. No force can stop the yatra…we will go to Srinagar (where the foot march will conclude in early 2023) and hoist the tricolour.” Narrating an incident, Gandhi said, “When I went to Kedarnath walking, I met an RSS leader there who was overweight and sough good health from Lord Shiva. But as a Congress leader, I thanked Lord Shiva for showing me the way to walk toward his temple. This is the difference between the Congress and the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh).” Newly-elected Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, who also addressed the rally, said the country is seeing a lot of hatred, polarisation on caste and religious lines and unity in diversity is under threat.
In his nearly 17-year-long tenure as Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru showed how to keep India united, said Kharge.
The cross-country march was aimed at protecting democratic and constitutional values so that Indians live with dignity, he said.
“There is unrest among youth because of unemployment. The Modi government is misleading youth and it cannot be trusted to keep the country united,” the Congress president said.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state unit president Jayant Patil said his outfit, an ally of the Congress, stands against politics of polarisation, and hence it is supporting the Gandhi-led yatra.
NCP Lok Sabha MP Supriya Sule was also present at the rally.
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