Mumbai, October 17
Painting a grim picture ahead of the October 21 Maharashtra Assembly elections, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said that the current slowdown in the country coupled with government apathy has badly hit the Indian economy.
“Slowdown, government apathy affecting aspirations, future of Indians,” Manmohan Singh said.
"There is gloom in the automobiles hub of Pune; slowdown has led to a large number of factories shutting down in Maharashtra. The state is hit by grave economic crises, but the government seems obsessed with trying to fix blame."
The BJP governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra are unwilling to adopt people-friendly policies, he said.
The former Prime Minister said that from being No. 1 in investments, Maharashtra has now become No. 1 in farmer suicides.
Singh urged for setting up labour-intensive industries, among other measures, to tackle the economic crisis.
'Cong backed scrapping of Art 370'
The Congress does not need a certificate of patriotism from anyone, former prime minister Manmohan Singh said, pointing out that it voted in favour of the abrogation of Article 370, but opposed the high-handed way in which it was done.
He also said that agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) should not be used to settle “political scores”.
Singh’s comments came at a time when prime minister Narendra Modi and the BJP have been attacking Congress on Article 370 during the campaign for the Maharashtra Assembly polls, while NCP leaders, including Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel, are being investigated by the ED in various cases.
Addressing a press conference here, Singh said the Congress opposes the “high-handedness” with which Article 370 of the Constitution—which gave a special status to Jammu and Kashmir—was introduced in Parliament.
Earning goodwill of the people of Jammu & Kashmir was necessary before such a move, the former Prime Minister said.
“The Congress voted in favour of the move (the abrogation) in Parliament, not against it. The Congress feels that Article 370 is a temporary measure, but if a change is to be brought, it has to be with the goodwill of the people of J&K,” he said.
The ED, under the NDA regime, has got more powers than ever, and should not be used for political vendetta against leaders of “different hues”, Singh said.
“Our hope is these powers will be used not to settle political scores,” he said, expressing confidence that the government will do justice to Praful Patel.
Asked about the BJP’s poll promise to seek Bharat Ratna for V D Savarkar, who was an accused in the Mahatma Gandhi assassination case but was acquitted, Singh said the Congress only opposes Savarkar’s Hindutva ideology.
Referring to the Hindu Mahasabha leader with a reverential “Savarkar-ji”, Singh said the former Prime Minister, late Indira Gandhi, had issued a postal stamp in Savarkar’s memory.
“(But) we are not in favour of the Hindutva ideology that Savarkar-ji patronised and stood for,” Singh said.
Singh also hit out against the NDA government’s Citizenship Amendment Bill, calling it a divisive move that discriminates against the Muslims by facilitating Indian citizenship for persons of all faiths except Muslims.
He also claimed that for the first time in the history of Parliament such a divisive Bill has been tabled.
On the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise in Assam, Singh said the BJP expected that it would exclude Muslims, but 12 lakh out of the 19 lakh people who could not establish their citizenship status were Bengali Hindus.
There is a need to look at things in objective manner in matters such as the NRC, and while people would want to identify foreign nationals and ensure they do not get any benefits, we need to look at the issue with full sympathy as a “human problem”, Singh said.
The Congress does not need anyone’s certificate about its patriotic credentials, as its record during the freedom struggle is well-known, he said, adding that the BJP or its parent RSS were not part of the nationalist movement. — Agencies
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