Calling the Goods and Services Tax a “tsunami of tax terrorism”, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday compared demonetisation and GST with a double tap bullet fired at the economy to ensure it was dead.
In a hard-hitting attack, Gandhi also called Prime Minister Narendra Modi “a person with a small heart” and said the economy was staring at disaster, a “Modi-made disaster”.
“Modiji and his government have fired a double tap at the heart of our economy. First notebandi… bang…, and then badly conceptualised and implemented GST…, bang… have crippled our economy. The situation of joblessness in the country is extremely worrying. The government is creating a massive army of unemployed, which is toxic and dangerous,” Gandhi said in his speech at the 112th annual session of the PHD Chamber of Commerce followed by a question-answer session.
He again referred to GST as ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’, and termed it flawed.
“Their GST is wrecked with holes, moth eaten, flawed, punitive. It is forcing businesses to incur massive transaction costs. It is creating a 21st century License Raj. GST, as this government has formulated, has already unleashed a tsunami of tax terrorism and it is only going to worsen.”
The Congress leader said instead of admitting they are not able to provide jobs, the government are pitting “communities against each other in a bloody rage.”
“The way the regime is working, or not working, has led to a double tap killing of the Indian economy. Commandos, in hostage situation, fire what is called a double tap. Two quick closely-placed shots are fired at the chest to ensure that their terrorist target is down,” he added.
“In a couple of weeks, we will observe the ‘death’ anniversary of the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. November 8 is the ‘barsi’ (death anniversary) of ‘notebandi’ — the day Modi personally wiped out overnight 86 per cent of the currency in circulation.
“It was a move taken without thought, without consultation, or concern, for its conseqences. The Prime Minister failed to grasp the basic concept of the Indian economy,” he said.
“All cash is not black, and all black is not cash. Without understanding this basic concept, the Prime Minister used his vast powers to unleash terror on the citizens of India, to make them stand in queues for two months. Many died in the process, millions lost jobs, and their livelihood.
“…To do all this, you surely need someone with a very big chest, but a very small heart,” he said in a quip at Modi.
He said demonetisation crippled micro, small and medium enterprises, and destroyed the unorganised sector, forcing workers to go back to their villages in search of MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) work.
He also claimed investments in India were at a 15-year low, growth, which was 6.6 per cent in 2014, “is today 4.2 per cent by the yardstick the government is using”, bank lending is at its lowest in 60 years and unemployment is skyrocketing.
“Recent research showed that inequality in India is now the highest in 100 years. We are staring at a disaster. This is a man-made disaster — or in Modiji’s terminology, an MMD or Modi-Made Disaster.”
Gandhi said public trust in the government was dead.
“For some reason, the Prime Minister and the government are absolutely convinced that every single person is a thief. The government does not believe its own people,” he said.
The Congress leader said one develops trust by listening but the government does not listen. “Business thrives on trust as it creates a reliable environment,” he said.
Recalling Modi’s first speech in Parliament, Gandhi said it was marked by a lot of taglines and did not have a concrete way forward.
“What disturbed me was the condescending tone that ran through his entire speech and that tone has embedded itself in his government’s psyche and has become the bedrock of its immense arrogance,” he said.
Gandhi said people had reposed faith in Modi in 2014 but “today, it is fair to say that expectation lies shattered”.
Stressing that growth has to be accompanied by job creation, he said six crore small, micro and medium enterprises were the backbone for creating employment but had very little support, while the government was only creating 450 jobs everyday compared to 50,000 by China.
“Startup India is welcome for the economy, but it cannot be accompanied by ‘Shut Up India’ in society,” he said.