New Delhi, Oct 25: Buoyed by the results Haryana and Maharashtra assembly polls, the Congress on Friday decided to take on the Narendra Modi government with more vigourous attack and announced countrywide protest against the government's plan to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), as well as on Economic slowdown.
The grand old party announced a nationwide protest and awareness campaign against the proposed RCEP, from November 5 to November 15. "As a party, Congress is always sensitive to the people’s concerns. Congress Party is totally opposed to the RCEP negotiations and agreement", former Defence Minister and senior leader AK Antony said while addressing a press conference along with other leaders Jairam Ramesh, Randeep Singh Surjewala and AICC general secretary in-charge of organisation, KC Venugopal.
"Our country is heading for a deep economic crisis and slowdown. It affects almost all sectors of the Indian economy- agriculture, employment, industry and trade", he added. "Most Indians are finding it difficult to manage their day to day life. This is a time for a responsible government that's concerned about people's difficulties. It's time the government concentrates fully on deploying all resources available for a speedy economic revival", Mr Antony said.
He accused that the government, instead of doing things for a speedy solution for economic revival, is using their time to discuss RCEP agreement.
The press conference was conducted after the meeting of Congress top brass with the party's interim president Sonia Gandhi, a day after the results of Haryana and Maharashtra polls.
In Haryana, Congress has won 31 seats out of 90 and in Maharashtra the grand old party bagged 44 seats in the 288 member assembly.
Describing the provisions of RCEP, former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh said that signing RCEP is a suicide.
"When our economy is going through a bad phase, liberalising imports and signing RCEP is a suicide. The economy is sinking and the Prime Minister is going to sign the RCEP. It will be a mess", he said.
Referring to the provisions, Mr Ramesh said that the Congress has three important issues over signing the RCEP. "RCEP will liberalise imports from China. We do not know what happened in Wuhan and Mahabalipuram, but this is happening after the meeting of Wuhan and Mahabalipuram. This is going to encourage Made in China", the former Minister said.
Pointing out that the free trade agreement is harmful for the agriculture sector, Mr Ramesh said, "our agriculture sector, dairy industry will be in crisis. MD of Amul wrote a letter to Union Minister Piyush Goyal asking him not to sign RCEP agreement. He wrote in detail about the consequences of RCEP on the dairy industry, there cannot be a bigger betrayal to our farmers".
"Our Ministers claim that we will have control over data and it will stay in India. India’s stand that ‘data flow' should be done keeping in mind national and security interests, but 'national interest' has been removed from the current draft of RCEP", he alleged.
He also said that this signing of the RCEP by the PM will be the third blow to the Indian economy after demonetisation and hastily implemented GST. Mr Surjewala said that the Congress feels the RCEP is not in the best interest of the nation.
"Today, when strengthening the country’s economy should be our goal, it is neither fair nor rational to sign a free trade agreement. It needs to be reconsidered. After RCEP, China will directly or indirectly sell their cheap goods in large numbers in India and harm our local industries. Also post this, our export of personnel may not be possible in these countries, because they might put them in sensitive list", he added.
According to Mr Venugopal, the Congress will talk to other opposition parties for a collective agitation platform against the RCEP.
He said that to step up protests against the NDA Government on the present state of the economy, the party will hold massive demoinstrations across the country against the RCEP.
"Congress party has decided to held massive demonstration across the nation against RCEP. We have already given directions to our PCC units to have massive agitations and awareness campaigns on this agreement. Kisan Congress, Fishermen Congress and INTUC will also participate. We will seek the cooperation of like minded opposition parties", added Mr Venugopal. (UNI)