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Congress readies ambitious plan with economy in focus


Rahul Gandhi speaks during a public rally at Khumulwng on the outskirts of Agartala on Wednesday. Agence France-Presse

New Delhi : The Congress is increasingly pressing an economic agenda as the BJP tries to keep the glory of its response to the Pulwama terror attacks as an election card. On Thursday the Congress alleged that 3.2 crore casual labourers lost their employment under the Modi government. “The people of India will rise up and defeat the BJP for this treachery,” the Congress said.

The flaying was prompted by a National Sample Survey Office report that the government has kept under wraps. It says an estimated 3.2 crore casual labourers lost their jobs in rural India between 2011-12 and 2017-18.

Top officials at the NSSO had quit last year because the government wasn’t willing to release the report.

An English newspaper has carried the report, with the information that almost 3 crore of these workers were those working on farms.

“BJP robs India’s Jobs! 3.2 cr casual labourers lost their employment under Modi government. 3 Cr are farm Labourers!” Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in a tweet, tagging the media report.

“Also, 4.7 crore youth became jobless! This is stark reality that PM Modi is hiding from India. People of India will rise up and defeat the BJP for this treachery,” he said.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi alleged on Wednesday that Narendra Modi’s policies destroyed one crore jobs last year and said “India’s PM is a joke.” “I thought India was producing 450 jobs a day. Turns out Modi’s policies destroyed 1 crore jobs in 2018. That’s 27,000 jobs lost every single day of 2018. India’s PM is a joke,” he tweeted.

Addressing a rally in Manipur on Thursday, Rahul said: “In 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi destroyed one crore jobs in the country. This is the scale of his incompetence. It is absurd and ridiculous that the PM promises giving two crore jobs.” Congress has already promised a 33% women’s quota in public sector jobs to reach out to women voters, a Right to Healthcare Bill and a minimum guaranteed income for all poor irrespective of their occupation or job.

The party is putting the final touches on the manifesto that’s expected to be unveiled later this month, a senior leader said. “We want to give a clear road map in our manifesto on job creation. It is perhaps the most important issue along with farmers’ welfare. It’s very clear why jobs are not being created and we will also try to pump money back into the system,” said a senior member of the manifesto committee.

Separately, in a veiled attack on opposition parties for raising questions over the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) targeted strike against terrorists in Balakot, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday the attack took place in Pakistan but the trouble was felt in India by the “tukde-tukde gang.” Interacting with around 25 lakh security guards via audio bridge technology, as part of his campaign “Mai Bhi Chowkidar” ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Modi hit out at Congress President Rahul Gandhi for his “Chowkidar Chor Hai” (watchman is the thief) jibe, saying some people in the last few months have run a disinformation campaign against “chowkidars” for their “vested interests”.

“The country is taken aback by the opposition parties’s attitude. Those who support the ‘tukde-tukde gang’ are not able to digest that our forces dropped bombs in Pakistan. Bomb was dropped in Pakistan, Pakistanis got hurt but they are shouting here in Hindustan,” the Prime Minister said.

“Vaar Pakistan par hua aur bimar koi Hindustan me hua (the attack took place in Pakistan, but pain was felt in India by some). We need to identify such people,” he said.

Modi said the entire nation was proud of the armed forces and their strong decisive action against the perpetrators of the Pulwama terror attack that killed 40 CRPF troopers on Feb.14.

“The nation will never forgive the opposition parties for their misinformation campaign,” he said, adding the words of opposition members here are being heard in radio and published in newspapers there (Pakistan), even in their Parliament.

The Prime Minister slammed the opposition, specially the Congress, for defaming the watchmen with their “Chowkidar Chor Hai” slogan and raised apprehensions that the opposition parties would continue with their misinformation campaign to target him.

“I want to apologise as some people in the last few months have been abusing watchmen by saying ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ for their vested interests. By doing this, they have questioned the dedication and honesty of ‘chowkidars’,” Modi said.

Resmi Sivaram / Agencies