Slamming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for all-round failure on the economic front, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said here on Sunday that under the former UPA Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Indian economy was very strong and flourished, earning the admiration of the whole world.
"Under the UPA government, the Indian economy was very strong and could challenge even the US economy. The whole world praised our economic management. Now, under the present government, what is the status," Gandhi asked during his election rallies here on Saturday evening.
He said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi ridiculed his predecessor Manmohan Singh, mocked the Congress everywhere and even alleged that India achieved nothing in 70 years.
"Look at what is happening now. After the November 2016 demonetisation, followed by the GST (Goods and Services Tax), the whole country's economy is in shambles. The Finance Minister (Nirmala Sitharaman) claims that the GST cannot be changed as it has become law, but the BJP government could change MNREGA while it is also planning to modify the tribal laws. Then why not GST," Gandhi asked.
Despite claims made by the BJP, the Congress leader said that nobody wants to invest in India now and that many traders and businessmen are leaving the country.
"The BJP is engaged in dividing the nation on caste and communal lines, snatching away money from the poor masses to clear the loans of around 15 top industrialists. Post-demonetisation, the ordinary folks stood in queues to get their own money, but nobody from the suited-booted gentry was sighted," Gandhi said.
Earlier, attacking the BJP during his maiden election rally in Latur over "massive unemployment", the Congress leader said the "Made in China" policy is killing the jobs of the Indian youth.
"The county is presently witnessing the maximum unemployment in the past four decades... There are no jobs. The government is talking about 'Make In India', but only Chinese industries have swamped the country, which is killing jobs. The worried youth have no hopes for the future," Gandhi said.
On the Prime Minister's recent meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Gandhi said: "When they were having tea and snacks the other day, did the PM ask him about the aggression in Doklam? No!"
Dwelling on the economic situation, he said from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, there is distress, and the economy is in shambles, ranging from automobiles to textiles and diamonds to small businesses with over 2,000 factories shutting down in Maharashtra alone, while "thieves" like Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi have looted and fled the country.
He warned that the current economic status of the nation is "just the beginning" and predicted dire consequences for the economy in the coming six-seven months.
"You go anywhere in the country, people only talk about joblessness, farmland crises, the economy... Where is the promised 'Achhe Din'? They have not come. After demonetisation, nobody knows how much black money was recovered, but only the poor and the honest masses suffered," he said.
Gandhi also alleged that in the past few years, the government has cleared off bad loans of around 15 top industrialists to the tune of Rs 5.50 lakh crore.
Besides, the government also gave an advance "Diwali gift" of corporate tax benefits to the rich industrialists worth Rs 1.45 lakh crore last month, but there were no similar concessions for the suffering farmers, and the government could not provide barely Rs 35,000 crore for the rural jobs guarantee scheme which is a boon for the rural poor, Gandhi added.
"In the past many years, the country has been built and prospered because of the contributions made by people from all castes and communities. But the present government is resorting to 'divisive tactics' which will not work and drag down the nation's progress," he alleged.
"However, instead of concentrating or debating on these burning issues, the government is busy showing people how the Chandrayaan rocket was sent to the moon, Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir, Pakistan, China, Japan, Korea, et al... But, remember, rockets will not help fill up the stomachs of the hungry millions," Gandhi said.
He urged for a return to the Congress "which lives in the soul of Maharashtra", adding the party wouldn't promise the moon, but make down-to-earth promises which the party would sincerely fulfil for the welfare of the people of the state.
The 288-member Maharashtra Assembly will go to the polls on October 21 while the results will be declared on October 24.