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'Economy Under Seige, PM Busy Managing Headlines': Sonia Gandhi Attacks Govt Over RCEP Agreement

Sonia Gandhi's remarks come as negotiations to finalise the long-overdue RCEP enter final stages. All eyes are on India whether it agrees to the world's largest trading deal spanning 16-Asia Pacific nations.

PTI

Updated:November 2, 2019, 11:14 PM IST
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'Economy Under Seige, PM Busy Managing Headlines': Sonia Gandhi Attacks Govt Over RCEP Agreement
Sonia Gandhi addresses a meeting at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi. (PTI)

New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Saturday launched a blistering attack on the government on the state of economy, saying signing the RCEP agreement will result in "untold hardship" for farmers, shopkeepers and small enterprises.

Addressing a meeting at the AICC headquarters here, she alleged that instead of acknowledging the "severe slowdown" and looking for a comprehensive resolution, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is too busy "managing headlines and events".

"As a citizen and as a member of the responsible opposition, it pains me to see the Indian economy under siege. What is even more worrying is that the government is in complete denial," Gandhi said.

"As 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 Agreement (RCEP) - the regional free trade agreement of 16 Asian countries," Gandhi said.

This will result in untold hardship for farmers, shopkeepers, and small and medium enterprises, she claimed.

Her remarks come as negotiations to finalise the long-overdue RCEP enter final stages. All eyes are on India whether it will finally take the plunge and agrees to the world's largest trading deal spanning 16-Asia Pacific nations.

In the address to party general secretaries, state in-charges and heads of frontal organisations, Gandhi said, "The latest shocking revelation 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," she 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 said.

Union Minister hits back

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal countered Gandhi's remarks on the proposed mega free trade agreement RCEP, saying it was during the UPA regime when India joined negotiations for this pact.

In a series of tweets, Goyal said, "Sonia Gandhi ji has suddenly woken up to RCEP and FTAs. So where was she — When FTA with ASEAN was signed in 2010? When FTA with South Korea was signed in 2010? When FTA with Malaysia was signed in 2011? When FTA with Japan was signed in 2011?"

He further said, "So where was she when her government opened 74% of its market to ASEAN countries but richer countries like Indonesia opened only 50% for India? Why did she not speak against giving larger concessions to richer countries?"

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