\'Two Indias exist under Modi, one of farmers and labourers, other of country\'s rich\'

PANIPAT: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said there are two Indias under Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- one of labourers, farmers and the unemployed, and the second of around 100 people who hold half of the country's wealth.

Addressing a rally here as part of the Congress' Bharat Jodo Yatra, Gandhi said 90 per cent of profits are in the hands of 20 companies while the common man has nothing.

He also hit out at the Centre over the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and demonetisation which he said were "weapons" to destroy small and medium businesses.

The yatra led by Gandhi reached here from Uttar Pradesh on Thursday evening and the march resumed on Friday morning.

Gandhi asked the crowd at the rally what the population of the country is and pat came the reply: "140 crore".

He further asked how many people are seated on the stage and the crowd replied, "100".

"I want to tell you about the country's economic condition. Remember the first number is 140 crore and the second is 100," Gandhi said.

"Today, half of the country's wealth is held by its 100 richest people. Do you think this is fair?

"I will give you the second figure. If you take the profits of all corporate companies of the country, 90 per cent of the profits are in the hands of only 20 companies. This is the truth of Narendra Modi's India," he said.

"There are two Indias -- one of farmers, labourers, small shopkeepers and unemployed youth in which crores of people live and the second of 200-300 people," he said.

"What you have is this polluted air," the former Congress chief told the gathering.

Gandhi criticised the Centre over demonetisation and the introduction of GST.

Earlier, Panipat was famous as a centre of small and medium industries. Thousands of small businesses were run here, providing employment to lakhs of people till the government came up with demonetisation and GST, he said.

"Demonetisation and GST were not policies but weapons to destroy small and medium businesses," he said.

The impact of these two measures was felt not just in Panipat or Haryana but across the country, he said.

Gandhi's remarks came days after the Supreme Court gave its stamp of approval to the Centre's 2016 decision to demonetise currency notes of denomination Rs 1,000 and Rs 500, saying the decision-making process was neither flawed nor hasty.

The top court's judgment came on a batch of 58 petitions challenging the demonetisation exercise announced by the Modi government on November 8, 2016.

The Congress leader also targeted the BJP-led Haryana government over the state's "high" unemployment rate.

"In the 21st century, Haryana is the champion in unemployment. You have left everyone behind," Gandhi told the gathering when someone in the crowd claimed the state has an unemployment rate of 38 per cent.

Youth is power and all of it is being wasted, he said.

On the Agnipath defence recruitment scheme, Gandhi said, "First make me understand what the Agnipath scheme is. The BJP people say they are patriots, make me understand their patriotism."

The Agnipath scheme was announced by the Centre on June 14 last year. It provides for the recruitment of youths in the age bracket of 17-and-half to 21 years in the armed forces for only four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years.

After the announcement of the scheme, protests had erupted in several parts of the country, with angry protesters vandalising railway stations, setting trains on fire and blocking roads and railway tracks.

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge also addressed the public meeting and lashed out at the Centre over issues of inflation and unemployment. He accused the BJP of not fulfilling its poll promises after coming to power.

Senior Congress leaders Kumari Selja, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, K C Venugopal, Shaktisinh Gohil, Kiran Choudhary and D K Shivakumar were among those present at the rally.

The Bharat Jodo Yatra covered over 130 km in its first phase in Haryana from December 21-23, passing through Nuh, Gurugram and Faridabad districts.

The yatra, which started from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu on September 7, will end with Gandhi hoisting the national flag in Srinagar on January 30.

The march has so far covered Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

( Source : PTI )
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