Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu:
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today said India is facing its “worst-ever economic crisis” and is heading towards a “disaster”, while also alleging that a handful of large businesses are controlling the country with the help of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Speaking at the launch of the Congress’ ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ at a rally, Mr Gandhi said during the British period, there was one East India Company that controlled the country, now there are three-four companies doing so.
“Today, India faces its worst-ever economic crisis. The highest level of unemployment that we have ever seen and the country is heading into a disaster,” he said.
“Unfortunately, our friends in the media are fully controlled,” the former Congress chief alleged in his speech that was being simultaneously translated into Tamil by an interpreter.
Mr Gandhi said everybody understands the economic situation in the country. However, one would never see unemployment or price rise on television and only the image of the prime minister.
“The BJP government has systematically attacked farmers, labourers, and small and medium businesses of this country,” he said.
A handful of large businesses control the entire country today, Gandhi alleged.
Ports, airports, coal, power, telecom, every single industry is controlled by a handful of businesses, he claimed.
“The prime minister will not last one day without their support. They control the media and they ensure that the PM is on TV 24 hours a day. In exchange, the PM carries out policies that are in their interest,” Mr Gandhi alleged.
He said demonetisation, a flawed Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, and the three farm laws were all designed to help the same few businessmen.
“The idea is very similar to what the British used to do- divide India, make Indians fight with each other and then steal from the Indian people. In those days, it used to be called the East India Company, it was one big company that controlled the whole of India,” Mr Gandhi said.
Today, there are three-four big companies that control the entire India, he alleged.
Policies like demonetisation, GST, and farm laws are designed to take away from the future of India and from the poor people of India, he said.
Asserting that jobs are created by small and medium businesses and farmers, Mr Gandhi said today small and medium businesses have been crippled by the BJP’s policies and farmers are barely surviving.
“So the result is, it is impossible for India to create jobs for its youngsters. While our youngsters cannot earn, the prices keep going up. So, we are heading into bad times,” he said.
Mr Gandhi stressed that it is very important to bring the people of India together and make sure that “we are united so that India is strong”.
That is the aim of the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, he added.
“The ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ is designed to listen to the people of India. We do not want to crush the voice of the people of India,” Mr Gandhi asserted.
“We want to listen to the people of India,” he added.
Earlier in the day, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi paid floral tributes to his father and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi at the latter’s memorial in Sriperumbudur, and said he lost his father to “hate and division” and does not want to lose his country to it.
The Congress leader also attended an event in Kanyakumari where Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin, Rajasthan’s Ashok Gehlot and Chhattisgarh’s Bhupesh Baghel were present.
In a symbolic gesture on the commencement of the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, Mr Stalin handed over the national flag to Mr Gandhi and the two leaders saluted the tricolour, signifying the broad theme of unity.
Earlier, Stalin welcomed him here and joined the Congress leader at the prayer meet at the Gandhi Memorial.
After the event at the Mahatma Gandhi Mandapam, Mr Gandhi and other Congress leaders walked to the seaside venue of the rally and the yatra was formally launched.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)