Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday targeted the Narendra Modi government for a long stretch of plummeting economic indicators, and said that India has entered a recession for the first time in history because of the prime minister’s policies.

“Modi’s actions have turned India’s strength into its weakness,” Gandhi said on Twitter.

The Congress leader’s criticism came a day after the Reserve Bank of India estimated the country’s economy is likely to enter a recessionary phase for the first time ever, in the second quarter (July-September) of the current financial year. The Gross Domestic Product is expected to contract by 8.6%, the bank said.

India’s economy had contracted by an unprecedented 23.9% in the first quarter (April-June) of this financial year, hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent slowdown in business. Experts at the time had said the figures reflected the onset of India’s deepest recession since 1996, when the country first began publishing its GDP numbers.

The Congress criticised the government over the dismal projections and alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party had “destroyed India’s strength”. “Recession! For the first time in Indian history,” the party tweeted from its official handle. “This is a direct result of the Modi government’s incompetence, foolish economic policies and disastrous tactics.”

For months now, the Indian economy has been in the doldrums. In October, the International Monetary Fund predicted that the Indian economy would contract by 10.3% in 2020-’21. The World Bank too said that the country’s gross domestic product is likely to contract by 9.6% in the current financial year.

In another economic projection put out on October 13, the IMF estimated that India’s per capita gross domestic product will slip below Bangladesh’s for 2020. In other words, Bangladeshis will soon be, on an average, marginally richer than Indians.

Besides, a United Nations report said in September that the Indian economy would diminish by 5.9% this year. The Asian Development Bank predicted a negative GDP growth rate of 9%. American credit rating agency Fitch Ratings forecast a decline of 10.5%.

Much of this damage was caused by the coronavirus lockdown imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which experts say was the harshest in the world, but which the Centre insists prevented thousands of deaths.