Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday renewed his attack on the Narendra Modi-led government over the drastic 23.9% fall in India’s gross domestic product in the second quarter of April-June, rising unemployment, China’s incursions along the border, and an alarming rise in the India’s coronavirus count. Gandhi called these concerns “Modi-made disasters”.
“India is reeling under Modi-made disasters,” the Congress leader said in a tweet. He then listed six major problems facing the country. “1) Historic GDP reduction -23.9% 2) Highest Unemployment in 45 yrs [years] 3) 12 Crs [crore] job loss 4) Centre not paying States their GST [Goods and Services] tax dues 5) Globally highest COVID-19 daily cases and deaths 6) External aggression at our borders.”
On Tuesday, Gandhi’s party colleague P Chidambaram had hit out at the Centre for the country’s deteriorating economic situation. He attacked Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for attributing the economic crisis to coronavirus and calling it “an act of God”, and said it was instead a man-made economic disaster.
“The pandemic is a natural disaster,” the Congress leader told NDTV in an interview. “But you are compounding the pandemic, a natural disaster, with a man-made disaster.”
Data released by the Centre on Monday showed that the Indian economy contracted by 23.9% in the second quarter of April-June, registering the worst fall in four decades, as the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus upended livelihoods and businesses. The numbers reflect the onset of the deepest recession in India since 1996, when the country first began publishing its quarterly GDP figures.
Gandhi’s “12 crore job loss” was a reference to a report from the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy in May, which flagged large-scale job losses in the country due to the coronavirus lockdown.
The Congress leader also hit out at the government for not paying GST dues to the states. On August 29, the Union Ministry of Finance put forth two borrowing options before states to meet the shortfall of of Rs 2.35 lakh crore in GST compensation for 2020-’21. The first option is that the states may borrow the full compensation deficit of Rs 2.35 lakh crore via a special window in consultation with the RBI. The second option entailed borrowing the entire projected shortfall of Rs 2.35 lakh crore this year, facilitated by the central bank.
Five chief ministers have criticised the Centre’s suggestions. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Tamil Nadu’s Edappadi K Palaniswami and West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee have conveyed their complaints to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has written to Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman. The Kerala government, meanwhile, rejected both of the Centre’s options on August 30.
India is also dealing with fresh border tensions with China. The Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday said that China once again engaged in provocative military maneuvers along the Line of Actual Control on August 31, even as the group commanders of the two sides were in discussions to de-escalate tensions between the two countries. The new escalation in tensions came a day after Indian Army said its soldiers had thwarted similar “provocative” movements by China’s military on Saturday night in the South Bank area of Pangong Lake.
India is also emerging as a global coronavirus hotspot, reporting a huge number of daily cases. The country’s count on Wednesday touched 37,69,523 as it reported 78,357 new cases in the last 24 hours. The toll rose by 1,045 to 66,333. The World Health Organization had said on Monday that India led the rise in global coronavirus cases last week, reporting nearly 5 lakh of the 18 lakh new worldwide infections.