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9 Sep, 2020 12:08

‘Instead of ending Covid-19, he ended the jobs’: Indian opposition figure Rahul Gandhi slams PM Modi for epidemic response

‘Instead of ending Covid-19, he ended the jobs’: Indian opposition figure Rahul Gandhi slams PM Modi for epidemic response

Prominent opposition MP Rahul Gandhi has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of failing to either tackle the Covid-19 epidemic or safeguard the national economy with his policies.

The Modi government has “destroyed” India’s informal economy sector with its “sudden” national lockdown in March, Gandhi, an MP who used to head the Indian National Congress (INC) party, said on Wednesday. The measure meant to curb the spread of Covid-19 hit the least protected Indians worst, he said.

“The poor, those in small and medium businesses, are daily wage earners. They eat with what they earn each day. When you [PM Modi] announced a lockdown without a notice, you attacked them,” he said in his latest video attack on the policies of the ruling BJP party.

The prime minister said the fight will be for 21 days, the backbone of the unorganised sector broke in 21 days.

Earlier, Gandhi tweeted a list of “Modi-made disasters” and mounted other criticisms of the prime minister.

India this month has surpassed Brazil as the nation with the second largest number of Covid-19 infections. The national lockdown was lifted in June, with the government saying it was too painful for the economy. Between April and June, it shrank by almost a quarter compared to Q2 of 2019, sending India into its worst recession in decades.

The impact on the informal sector, which offers less accurate reporting than better-controlled large Indian businesses, is somewhat difficult to estimate. But with around 90 percent of the national workforce employed there, its importance is hard to overestimate. Critics say the lockdown rendered many of those people jobless and sent them fleeing from big cities, facilitating the spread of the coronavirus.

Also on rt.com India surges past Brazil in number of Covid-19 cases, trailing only behind US

Gandhi has ramped up his attacks on the Modi government as India endures new hardships, posing as a champion of the common people opposing a corporate-friendly government. His message may be more effective now than in previous years, when the INC under his leadership sustained crushing electoral defeats from Modi’s BJP.

The party, which for decades dominated Indian political life, lost over 160 seats in 2014 and failed to recover last year, when their ruling opponents cemented their hold on the legislature. After the 2019 defeat, Gandhi returned the INC presidency to his mother, Sonia Gandhi.

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