Ahmedabad: Sonia Gandhi, the former Congress president and the mother of incumbent Rahul Gandhi, on Thursday expressed confidence in her son reviving the party’s fortunes, while also criticizing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on a range of topics—from unemployment to its new programmes and economic achievements as well as the recently announced Union Budget.
“He is now my boss too—let there be no doubt about that—and I know that all of you will work with him with the same dedication, loyalty and enthusiasm as you did with me,” Gandhi said while addressing a Congress parliamentary party meeting. “I am confident that we will work cohesively under his leadership to revive our party’s fortunes. That process has begun.”
Gandhi, who represents the Rae Bareli constituency in the Lok Sabha, also responded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speeches in both houses of Parliament a day before in which he strongly hit out at the opposition and the Nehru-Gandhi family.
“If this government is to be believed, India had accomplished nothing before May 2014. The arrogance and dishonesty of this tells us that the Modi government is out of touch with reality and lives by its own propaganda and lies,” Gandhi said, adding, “We need no further evidence of this than the Prime Minister’s speech in the Lok Sabha yesterday morning.”
“It has been almost four years since this government came to power. This has been a period in which institutions that are at the foundation of our democracy have come under systematic assault—Parliament itself, the judiciary, media and civil society… Investigative agencies have been let loose against political opponents. An all-pervasive atmosphere of fear and intimidation has been created. Liberal, secular and democratic traditions are being wantonly damaged,” she said.
The former Congress president, who relinquished the party’s top post last year after nearly 19 years in charge, said the reality is quite different from the economic achievements the BJP is portraying.
“Agriculture continues to be deep distress, and the desperation of farmers is sadly evident in the number of suicides. The rural economy and small and medium enterprises are in shambles,” Gandhi said. “Unemployment is staring at our youth. New jobs are not only not being created, but existing jobs themselves are being lost. Employment cannot happen without new investments and the fact is that there has been a marked decline in the rate of investment over the past four years.”
Gandhi also criticized the Union Budget, saying it is “full of sleights of hand—of jumlas—such as the oft-repeated but impossible-to-achieve promise to double farmer incomes in five years and the promises of increased support prices without clarifying their basis.”
“This government announces what it calls new programmes and initiatives ever so often, unveiling them with the flourish of a magician. In reality they are simply recycled schemes that were launched during the UPA (Congress-led United Progressive Alliance) government. True, the new names are catchy and colourful, perhaps much more so than during our time, we must admit. But this seems to be a game of ‘maximum publicity, minimum government’ or, put another way, ‘maximum marketing, minimum delivery’,” she said.