Launching a scathing attack on the Narendra Modi government, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor stated that it could claim no authentic achievement over the last four years.
“The BJP government in Delhi cannot point out a single promise it has made that it has been able to fulfil. On the other hand, in Karnataka we have the Siddaramaiah government, which has fulfilled close to 95% of its campaign promises,” he said.
Addressing voters in the Mahadevapura constituency in Bengaluru on Friday, the MP, after endorsing MLA-hopeful AC Srinivas, emphasised the decisive role the Karnataka assembly elections would play in next year’s Lok Sabha elections.
The MP also accused the BJP government of taking Congress policies and implementing them poorly, citing Aadhaar and GST as key examples.
“Every single thing that can be called an achievement had been initiated by the UPA and was opposed by the BJP. When they came to power they took over these initiatives, often changing the names in the process. When the UPA came up with Aadhaar, the BJP opposed it. Now they’ve made it compulsory for everything. This is an absurd and blatant misuse of power and not what the Congress had in mind when we came up with Aadhaar. Similarly, when we came up with GST, we wanted to eliminate 26 taxes and replace it with one tax with one tax rate throughout the country. Instead, the BJP created three taxes and six tax rates. We are the only country in the world with six GST tax rates!” Tharoor said.
Policies like demonetisation and a poorly implemented GST, he alleged, had cost the economy dearly.
“Demonetisation was an absolutely disastrous policy that was implemented badly and cost lives, destroyed jobs and hurt the Indian economy. Then there was GST, which was a good idea implemented badly. That bad implementation is costing us a great deal already because many businesses, especially small businesses, are unable to cope with the burdens of GST reporting. Small to medium-sized enterprises have shut down and daily wage workers have lost their jobs,” he stated.
The only achievement of the BJP government, according to Tharoor, was the division of the country and the introduction of “the politics of hate”.
“They have brought communalism in this country in a vicious manner that we have never seen before. Yes, there have been instances of communal violence in the past, but such incidents were not led, directed, condoned and blessed by the poisonous rhetoric of the ruling party,” he said.
Attacking the government for turning a blind eye to communalism and intolerance, he stated, “We want a government that acts against these people, not encourages them. We want a government that protects our freedoms, not restricts them. We want a government that promotes unity, not uniformity. We want a government that believes in creating consensus in India, not conformity. We must remain a democracy. We must remain the land that Mahatma Gandhi fought to free. The land that so many great sons and daughters have built for 70 years is now being transformed by unworthy people into something that none of us would like.”
The challenge currently gripping the opposition, he said, was a “battle for India’s soul”.
“That soul is a wounded soul, and the wounds have been caused by those in power, those who are custodians of our country and who are betraying the spirit of the country,” he said.
Noting that there was an “irresistible turning of the tide against the BJP and its politics of division and hatred,” he told voters, “You are voting for an MLA. But you are also voting for a state government and you are voting to push the momentum against the disastrous party that is ruling us today.”
“This election is a chance for you to send a message to them that their design will not prevail, that the people of Karnataka will stand up for decency, will stand up for democracy, will stand up for diversity. That's what we need to have as a result of this election,” he added.