RCEP: Swadeshi Jagran Manch praises Govt, Congress says victory for national interest

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with other world leaders during the RCEP summit meet in Bangkok on Monday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The government’s decision to not join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will guide others on how to uphold national interest, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) said on Monday. The RSS affiliate’s comments on the government’s decision came even as leading members of the opposition and trade bodies reacted to the development.

“We are very happy and grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taking this decision. We know this was not an easy decision. But we also know that there was a lot of pressure that was resisted. It is a demonstration to other leaders on how to protect national interest and the interests of our farmers, dairy workers and the manufacturing sector,” said national co-convener of SJM Ashwani Mahajan.

“History is witness to the fact that the RCEP negotiation was started by the UPA govt and it’s only when they saw that there was a public opinion against RCEP that they changed their tune at the last minute,” said Mr Mahajan. The organisation had earlier strongly warned the government about aspects of RCEP that they described as “disturbing”.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah also welcomed the step and said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi's firm stand over the years of not going ahead with a deal if our interests are not taken care of, is a welcome break from the past, where a weak UPA government ceded precious ground on trade and could not protect national interest.”

Responding to the decision, the Congress said the government’s decision was is a victory for those fighting for national interest.

“With rampant unemployment, a sinking economy and deep agrarian crisis emanating from utter mismanagement of economy by BJP Government, signing RCEP would have been catastrophic,” said party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, who emphasised that the interest of the farmers and micro, small and medium enterprises would have been hit by the FTA.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, however, criticised the government and said, “We were not against it, in fact, it (negotiations on RCEP) started in our time. It’s like the doctor had given the dates to the patient for operation and meanwhile, the doctor got transferred and the compounder operated on the patient,” said Mr. Azad.

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi had said earlier in a social media post that joining RCEP would flood India with cheap goods. However, the BJP hit back and said it was the UPA government that had entered into RCEP negotiations in 2012 and pointed out that the trade deficit with China grew from $1.9 bn to $44.8, between 2005 and 2014.

Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav welcomed the government’s step, saying it was “much needed, and bold decision”. He thanked Prime Minister Modi for the decision taken in the “larger national interest”.

Comments in the social media however credited the SJM and its leaders for maintaining pressure on the government to avoid RCEP. The Hindu had reported in October about the planned protests by the manch to stop the government from joining the economic group. The SJM had warned that commitment to zero import duty on 80% of Chinese products in the RCEP would hurt Indian economy.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2020 4:23:12 PM |

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