RCEP pact will deal body blow to economy: Sonia Gandhi

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday launched a blistering attack on the government on the state of the economy, saying signing the RCEP agreement will result in "untold hardship" for farmers, shopkeepers and small enterprises.

Addressing a meeting at the AICC headquarters here, she alleged that instead of acknowledging the "severe slowdown" and looking for a comprehensive resolution, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is too busy "managing headlines and events".

"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," Gandhi said.

"As economic decisions have not damaged the economy enough, it is now ready to deal a body blow to it by signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) - the regional free trade agreement of 16 Asian countries," Gandhi said.

This will result in untold hardship for farmers, shopkeepers, and small and medium enterprises, she claimed.

Her remarks come as negotiations to finalise the long-overdue RCEP enters final stages. All eyes are on India whether it will finally take the plunge and agrees to the world's largest trading deal spanning 16-Asia Pacific nations.

In the address to party general secretaries, state in-charges and heads of frontal organisations, Gandhi said, "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, but they are also shameful," she said.

"Far from creating jobs, recent studies now suggest that demonetisation, a messed up GST and subsequent economic decisions of the Modi government have resulted in an unprecedented loss of 9 million jobs during the last 6 years," she said.

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