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Congress vice president slammed PM Narendra Modi over the perception of dissent being muzzled in India, also termed growing unemployment in India as a Modi Made Disaster

Days after he coined the phrase Gabbar Singh Tax to take a dig at the Centre’s rollout of the Goods and Services Tax regime, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi escalated his attacks at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Thursday, asserting that the continuing disappointment in India over growing unemployment was a MMD – Modi Made Disaster.

The Congress vice president, who spoke at the annual general meeting of PHD Chamber of Commerce in New Delhi on Thursday, pulled no punches to hit out at the Prime Minister.

With the Congress and BJP set for a direct electoral clash in poll-bound Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh in December, Rahul made sure that his attacks were focused on Modi and on facts linked directly with the apparent problems facing the country and its economy instead of being a purely political broadside. The event also gave Rahul a chance to reach out to India Inc, which in the past three years, seems to have deserted the Congress party and firmly backed Modi’s leadership – a situation that appears to be changing now in the aftermath of demonetisation and the GST rollout.

In an address that showed Rahul’s metamorphosis from a gaffe-prone leader to one who is capable of launching a diatribe that hits on crucial political as well as economic issues with surgical precision, he systematically outlined the challenges facing India while squarely blaming Modi and his government for all of these troubles.

Rahul began by asserting that while the country’s electorate had, in May 2014, reposed its faith in Modi due to the feeling that “he had the ability and understanding to develop and implement a vision for the coming decade” but then went on to claim that “that expectation lies shattered” today.

Recalling his experience of listening to Modi’s first speech in Parliament as the country’s Prime Minister, Rahul said that he had been left disappointed at the Premier’s lack of vision while adding: “what really disturbed me was the condescending tone that ran through his entire speech like a thread. And that tone has embedded itself in the psyche of this government and it has become the bedrock of its immense arrogance.”

The Congress vice president reiterated his oft-quoted jibe at the Modi government – that it doesn’t trust Indians – alleging that “for some reason the PM and his government are absolutely convinced that every single person in India is a thief,” and that “there is no one in the government who is ready to listen to the pain of our people.”

With the BJP already facing flak over the row triggered by comments made by its leaders against the Taj Mahal, Rahul made it a point to incorporate the controversy in his address, saying: “People looked up to us for our values and leadership… today they laugh as we are busy debating whether one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal, was actually built by Indians?”

The Congress vice president described Modi’s demonetisation decision as “a move, taken without thought, without consultation or concern for its consequences” and asserted that the “Prime Minister used his vast powers to unleash terror on the citizens of India.”

He then took a swipe at Modi’s pet dialogue – of his chappan inch ki chhati (56 inch chest) – suggesting that “To make millions of Indian citizens stand in queues for over two months, desperately running from one ATM to another, many dying in the process, millions losing jobs and livelihood –you surely need someone with a big chest, but a very small heart.”

Rahul next targeted Modi and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley over the state of the economy. “The way this regime is working, or not working… has lead to a double tap killing of the Indian economy. Commandos in hostage situations fire what is called a double tap, two quick, closely placed shots fired at the chest to ensure that their terrorist target is dead. Modi and his government have fired a double tap at the heart of our economy, first notebandi and then a badly conceptualised and implemented GST.”

Rahul then raised the issue of joblessness in the country, calling it “extremely worrying” and cautioned: “We are staring at a disaster. I am not talking of technology making jobs redundant as is happening in the west. This is a pure man-made disaster or in Modi ji’s terminology a  MMD- ‘Modi Made Disaster.”

Speaking on the growing perception among a section of Indian citizens, especially those who aren’t ideologically aligned with the BJP, of being prevented from speaking their minds on a variety of issues by rabid right-wing activists, particularly on social media platforms, the Nehru-Gandhi scion said: “Startup India is welcome for the economy, but it cannot be accompanied by ‘Shut Up India’ in society.”

“What gives Startup India its strength is freedom of expression, thought and dissent. You choke this and you choke entrepreneurship,” Rahul added.

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