MUMBAI: With the Congress firing repeated salvos at the BJP government ahead of the Maharashtra elections blaming it for the country's precarious economic situation, all eyes are on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's only rally in Mumbai on Friday evening for his response.
As the election date nears (October 21), the Congress has been firing in all directions. Addressing a rally in Mumbai last Saturday (Oct 13), party leader Rahul Gandhi declared that the economy under former prime minister Manmohan Singh was very strong, flourished and had earned the admiration of the whole world.
"Under the UPA government, the Indian economy was very strong and could challenge even the US economy. The whole world praised our economic management. Now, under the present government, what is the status?" Gandhi asked.
Though the BJP kept mum in Maharashtra, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman hit back at the Congress from the USA by attributing the present economic ills to the tenure of the former PM Singh and ex-Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan.
On Thursday, Singh himself travelled to the country's commercial capital and in a surprise move toned down the Congress line on RSS ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Article 370.
At a packed media conference, the former prime minister also delivered a no-holds barred eye-opener on the status of the economy, both in the state and the country.
Packing tough words in his soft voice, Singh targeted Modi's pet theme of India becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2024. To achieve that goal, he said, the country would need a GDP growth of 10-12 per cent, but under the BJP government, the growth rate was declining steadily year after year.
Singh also said that merely "passing the buck to the Congress for India's problems would not work" and the present government should have learned and provided credible solutions to the issues confronting Indian economy in its five-and-half years.
He said the Modi government "talks about a lot of things like two crore jobs will be provided", but exactly the opposite is happening.
"Now, people are losing jobs. The government believes in headline management and not taking concrete steps to resolve the problems," Singh said sharply.