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RCEP pact will deal body blow to Indian economy: Sonia Gandhi

Congress president Sonia Gandhi with party leaders K.C. Venugopal (left) and Ghulam Nabi Azad at a meeting of office-bearers at the Congress headquarters in New Delhi on November 2, 2019.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi with party leaders K.C. Venugopal (left) and Ghulam Nabi Azad at a meeting of office-bearers at the Congress headquarters in New Delhi on November 2, 2019.   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday said the Indian economy was under siege and signing the proposed trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), would deliver a “body blow to the economy, resulting in untold hardship for farmers, shopkeepers and small enterprises”.

Addressing a meeting of general secretaries, heads of frontal organisations and senior leaders at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters here, Ms. Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being busy “managing headlines” and events instead of acknowledging the severe slowdown and looking for a comprehensive resolution.

She also raised the recent revelations of snooping of journalists, activists, academicians and politicians using a Israeli-developed software, Pegasus.

The Congress chief has planned a meeting of Opposition leaders on Mondayto explore the possibility of launching joint agitation programmes on economic slowdown, agrarian distress, unemployment and the RCEP agreement between November 5 and 15.

Explained | What is RCEP, and What are India’s issues with it?

Ms. Gandhi accused the government of adopting a “cavalier attitude while millions of Indians, especially the unemployed youth and farmers are having to endure”.

“What is even more worrying is that the government is in complete denial. Instead of acknowledging the severe slowdown and looking for a comprehensive resolution, Prime Minister Modi is too busy managing headlines and events,” she said.

“As if the government’s economic decisions have not damaged the economy enough, it is now ready to deal a body blow to it by signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement — the regional free trade agreement of 16 Asian countries,” Ms. Gandhi said.

"Far from creating jobs, recent studies now suggest that demonetisation, a messed up GST and subsequent economic decisions of the Modi government have resulted in an unprecedented loss of 9 million jobs during the last 6 years,"she added.

The Congress leader said the consistent weakening of institutions, withholding of data and tampering with statistics have all resulted in the erosion of India's economic credibility and those who point out shortcomings are “ridiculed and labeled anti-nationals”.

Referring to the recent snooping allegeations, she said: “The latest shocking revelation is that through the Israeli Pegasus software, acquired by the Modi government, snooping and spying activities on activists, journalists and political persons have taken place. These activities are not only illegal and un-constitutional, they are shameful.”

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2020 4:12:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rcep-pact-will-deal-body-blow-to-indian-economy-sonia-gandhi/article29864319.ece

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