NEW DELHI: Congress President Sonia Gandhi said here on Saturday that any decision by the Modi government to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) will be a "body blow" to economy of the country and will bring "untold hardship" for farmers, shopkeepers, small and medium enterprises.
Gandhi, who chaired a meeting to review preparations for party's countrywide agitational programme from November 5 to 15 against the BJP-led government on issues such as "economic slowdown, agrarian distress, unemployment" and proposed RCEP, said the economy was under siege.
"As if the government's economic decisions have not damaged the economy enough, it is now ready to deal a body blow to it by signing the RCEP. This will result in untold hardship for our farmers, shopkeepers, small and medium enterprises with serious repercussions for the people. We can ill afford to become a dumping ground for products including agricultural produce from foreign countries," she said.
"As a citizen and as a member of the responsible opposition, it pains me to see the Indian economy under siege. What is even more worrying is that the government is in complete denial. Instead of acknowledging the severe slowdown and looking for a comprehensive resolution, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is too busy managing headlines and events," she added.
RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its six other partner countries.
Gandhi alleged that the economic crisis was worsening by the day.
"The GDP growth is at best only five per cent during the first quarter. It is not just a six-year low. This signifies deep crisis. This is a sign of weak demand, low consumption, no investment and, as a result no jobs. Unemployment levels at nearly 8.5 per cent is most disturbing," she said.
She alleged that the BJP-led government had acquired Israeli Pegasus software for snooping and spying on activists, journalists and political persons.
"There are so many other issues of which you will be aware. The latest shocking revelation that through the Israeli Pegasus software acquired by the Modi government, snooping and spying activities on activists, journalists and political persons have taken place. These activities are not only illegal and unconstitutional, they are shameful," she said.