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Congress Attacks PM Over World Bank Report Downgrading India's Growth Forecast

Modi government's ‘empty slogans’ and failures increased poverty during the COVID pandemic, said the Opposition party.
World Bank

World Bank. Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

New Delhi: The Congress on Friday attacked the government over a World Bank report that flagged worsening of poverty numbers in India during the COVID pandemic and downgraded its economic growth forecast, alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is hardly worried and is still indulging in empty slogans.

The World Bank on Thursday projected a growth rate of 6.5% for the Indian economy for 2022-23, a drop of 1% from its previous June 2022 projections, citing deteriorating international environment.

Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters here, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate alleged that during the COVID pandemic, the Modi government's failures increased poverty.

Poverty has worsened in India, a report by the World Bank last evening has red flagged the fact that nearly 5.6 crore Indians have been pushed into extreme poverty during the COVID pandemic, Shrinate said.

"According to experts, the World Bank's estimates of poverty in India are actually lesser than the situation on the ground. Some economists believe that nearly 27 to 30 crore Indians were pushed into abject poverty during the COVID pandemic," she said.

Shrinate said it was precisely due to the apprehension of rising poverty that Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party leader Rahul Gandhi had both suggested to PM Modi and his government that money should be given directly to the poor so that they can continue to consume.

"If only they had paid heed to the suggestions made by the Congress party, the economic situation wouldn't have been so bad, millions of daily wage labourers wouldn't have had to walk home, lakhs of MSMEs wouldn't have had to close down and almost six crore people would not have been pushed into abject poverty," she said.

She said the World Bank's decision to reduce India's estimated GDP growth rate for the third time this year is not in isolation, and Moody's, Fitch, Asian Development Bank, among many others, have similarly cut the forecast.

"Now, given the Modi government's nature, it may be perceived as an international conspiracy against India and maybe the Enforcement Directorate will be unleashed against the World Bank as well," Shrinate said.

She said rupee has hit a historic low of 82.33 to a dollar, $100 billion worth of forex reserves have been eroded since the beginning of this year, twin deficit problems of Current Account Deficit and Fiscal Deficit are looming large, trade deficit has doubled over the one-year period, exports have dipped by nearly 3.5%, FMCG sale has dipped by 10%, this low consumption has slowed down investment further, MSMEs have shut down and unemployment is on the rise.

"All this topped by high prices impacts poor the most. And given high inflation, RBI has raised rates four times - which will make EMIs higher and loans costlier," she said.

"But Mr Modi is hardly worried - he is still indulging in empty slogans and false promises. First aloo - sona and now lifting potatoes through drones - is all that he is doing. Farmers are committing suicide citing PM's inefficiency and apathy as the sole reason," she alleged.

Posing questions to Prime Minister Modi, Shrinate asked when crude oil has dipped from $116 per barrel to $91 per barrel, then why have petrol and diesel prices not been brought down.

"Why have CNG prices been hiked by Rs 6 and PNG by Rs 4. Does that not impact the poor," she asked.

Fares have been increased for 130 trains, platform ticket prices have been increased by 200%, she said, and asked whether that does not impact the poor.

"Prices of Atta and milk are on fire. Does that not impact the poor? India ranks 101 in a list of 116 nations, can we not ensure our people don't struggle with hunger? Does that not impact the poor? Why are 80 crore people in a country of 135 crore helpless to take free ration? Who has brought them to this stage?" she said.

"And of course, you deserve congratulations to have made Mr (Gautam) Adani the second richest individual in the world from his 643rd position -- when you came to office? If only you had paid a fraction of this attention to the poor, our people would not have struggled with abject poverty!" she said.

Meanwhile, in a swipe at the Congress, BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya said on Twitter, "In another sign of revolt and brewing discontent against the Gandhis, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot invites Gautam Adani for the investor summit. He is given a seat right next to the CM."

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