As Prime Minister Narendra Modi approaches his nine-year milestone in office on May 30, the Congress party posed nine questions for him on Friday. “We want the prime minister to break his silence on these questions,” stated Jairam Ramesh, Congress General Secretary in charge of communications, during a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Delhi.
During the briefing, the Congress unveiled a document named “9 saal 9 sawaal” (9 years 9 questions), which contained the party’s inquiries on topics such as the economy, corruption, Covid-19, and social justice. “The prime minister must respond to these nine questions before the BJP begins to celebrate,” demanded Congress.
In response to this critique, the BJP labeled the questions as a “bundle of lies and mountain of deception.” Ravi Shankar Prasad, former Union minister and BJP leader, defended the party by highlighting India’s economic growth from the “fragile five” position to the fifth largest in the world, while addressing the points raised by the Congress party.
Below are the questions presented by the main opposition party:
- The Economy:Why is it that inflationand unemployment are skyrocketing in India? Why have the rich become richer and the poor poorer? Why is public property being sold to PM Modis friends, even as economic disparities are increasing?
- Agriculture and farmers:Why is it that the agreements made with farmers while repealing the three black farm laws have not been honoured? Why has MSPnot been legally guaranteed? Why didn’t farmers’ income double over the last 9 years?
- Corruption and cronyism:Why are you putting people’s hard-earned savings in LIC and SBI at risk to benefit your friend Adani? Why are you letting thieves escape? Why are you silent on rampant corruption in BIP-ruled states, and why are you letting Indians suffer?
- China and national security:Why is it that even after your clean chit to China in 2020, they continue to occupy Indian territory? 18 meetings have been held with China, yet why do they refuse to yield Indian territory and instead continue with their aggressive tactics?
- Social harmony:Why are you deliberately using the politics of hatred for electoral gains and fueling an atmosphere of fear in society?
- Social justice:Why is it that your oppressive government is methodically destroying the foundations of social justice? Why are you silent on the atrocities against women, Dalits, SC, ST, OBCs and minorities? Why are you ignoring the demand for a caste census?
- Democracy and federalism:Why have you weakened our Constitutional values and democratic institutions in the last nine years? Why are you practicing the politics of revenge against Opposition parties and leaders? And why are you using blatant ‘money power to destabilise governments elected by the people?
- Welfare schemes:Why is it that schemes for the welfare of the poor, needy and tribals are being weakened by cutting their budgets and making restrictive rules?
- COVID-19mismanagement: Why is it that despite the tragic deaths of over 40 lakh people due to COVID-19, the Modi government has refused to compensate their families? Why did you suddenly impose a lockdown which forced lakhs of workers to return home, and not provide any support?
Jairam Ramesh emphasized that Rahul Gandhi had persistently raised these nine questions during and after the Bharat Jodo Yatra, yet no answers have been provided. “It is time for the prime minister to break his silence,” Ramesh urged.
Congress leader Pawan Khera suggested that the prime minister should declare an “apology day” and apologize to all Indians, as he claimed Modi’s promises were fictitious.
In response to Congress’s allegations, BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad defended the government’s stance on national security, arguing that India’s land was seized by China when Congress held power, while India demonstrated its strength in eastern Ladakh during skirmishes with the neighboring country’s army. Prasad also criticized Jairam Ramesh for using harsh language against Modi and advised Congress to “rise above their hatred for Modi.” He confidently predicted a third defeat for Congress in 2024.
Prasad called Congress’s accusation of “Covid mismanagement” the “height of shamelessness.” He cited the Oxygen Express trains, improved health infrastructure, and nationwide vaccination efforts as evidence of the government’s actions. Furthermore, he mentioned that even Congress leaders received vaccinations.
Addressing concerns about the economy, Prasad stated that India’s economy has grown from $1 trillion in 2014 to nearly $3.5 trillion today, and the country’s forex reserve has increased to over Rs 50 lakh crore (Indian valuation). Additionally, exports have nearly doubled to Rs 36 lakh crore.
Regarding inflation, Prasad noted that retail inflation stands at 4.7%, while wholesale inflation has dipped into the negative. He compared these figures to higher inflation rates in the US, France, and Germany.
Lastly, Prasad mocked Congress for questioning corruption, asserting that the UPA’s decade-long tenure between 2004-14 was riddled with corruption scandals. He claimed that Congress is synonymous with “four Cs of cut, commission, corruption, and the Congress.”