Rahul Gandhi Joins Jewellers' Protest, Says Government Strangulating Small Businesses
NEW DELHI: Backing the protesting jewellers, Rahul Gandhi today dubbed the one per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery items as an "assassination attempt" on traders by the BJP government and alleged it was being done to benefit big industrialists.
The Congress Vice President, who was addressing a rally of the All India Bullion Jeweller and Swarnakar Federation at Jantar Mantar here, once again ridiculed the Centre's 'Make in India' initiative with a reference to its logo, saying it was a "babbar sher" that wants to "strangulate" small businesses.
"This is not an excise duty on you. This is an assassination attempt on you. You are being killed.... But why are you being killed? Who will benefit from this?
"First and foremost big industrialists will benefit and secondly those people will gain who will extract money from your profit through pressure and blackmail. This 'babbar sher' belongs to five to six big industrialists and those who want to suck your blood and earn through 'dalali' (brokery)," Gandhi said.
Invoking Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi compared the 'charkha' symbol with Make in India's 'lion' saying while the former was powered by the strength of "small businesses, farmers, labourers" the latter symbolized a handful of "five to six big industrialists".
"When Modi ji talks about Make in India, he actually refers to those five to six big industrialists. Traders associated with jewellery don't have factories of Rs 10,000 crore. They have small units," he said.
Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh, former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupender Hooda and his son and Rohtak MP Deepender Hooda and Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken were also present at the rally where people raised slogans against the BJP.
Expanding on his comparison between the Mahatma Gandhi's 'Charkha' and "Modi's babbar sher", Rahul Gandhi said while initially he felt "rather good" that someone was talking about manufacturing in India, later he started wondering who is "making it speak."
"Every movement has a symbol and now Modi ji has spoken about Make in India. India saw one such movement 60-70 years ago. Charkha was its symbol. The symbolism through which we fought against the British was the Make in India movement.
"This babbar sher of Make in India is trying to strangulate small businesses through excise. This is the truth. 6 crore people are associated with this business. They contribute 7 per cent of the country's GDP through their blood and sweat," he said.
Asserting that it was Congress' job to help traders get rid of their "pain and fear", he took a dig at Modi saying that the PM expresses his 'Mann ki Baat' but does not let others do so.
"BJP has leaders who probably want to help you but they are a scared lot today. They think speaking out will damage them," he said.
Amid slogans of "hamari bhool, kamal ka phool", Rahul Gandhi stressed that he had not come merely to address the rally but to show solidarity. "If we stand together, then I can guarantee that your job will be done, no one can stop you."
Earlier, Gandhi began his speech by cutting short a group of supporters chanting "Rahul, Rahul" saying "leave Rahul aside".
"I am in the Congress party for the last 10-12 years and when someone spends that much time with an organisation, its ideology and principles slowly seep into that individual.
"Mahatma Gandhiji had explained that Congress stands for that individual who finds himself at the end of any queue. Until few months ago you were not in the end of the line, but now you find yourselves there," he said.
Speaking before Gandhi arrived, Singh urged the gathering of traders to support the Congress for the next "50 years" just as they had withdrawn their support in the wake of "Morarji Desai's Gold Control Act".
Youth Congress chief Amarinder Singh Raja said that the party will force the Centre to roll back the excise duty just as it had "compelled the government to withdraw amendments to the Land acquisition Act" while junior Hooda said that he will raise the issue in Parliament.