New Delhi: Setting the tone for Congress' campaign in assembly polls in five states, Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday launched a no holds barred attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of instilling fear among people and wrecking the economy through demonetisation, while asserting his party will unseat BJP from power in 2019.
A day-long national convention, called in the wake of demonetisation, saw top Congress leaders including former prime minister Manmohan Singh and former finance minister P. Chidambaram coming down hard on Modi.
Singh cautioned people that "worse is still to come". Squarely blamming the prime minister for "undermining" institutions like Reserve Bank of India, Election Commission and judiciary, the Congress vice president said the ruling dispensation has also created fear among the media which he felt was not being able to carry out its responsibility as a watchdog effectively.
Billed as 'Jan Vedna' Sammelan, the meet attended by CWC members, Congress chief ministers, AICC office bearers, MPs, PCC chiefs and state leaders announced the second phase of protest action against note ban including gherao of RBI offices all over the country on January 18.
A combative Rahul, who was ridiculed by Modi some time back, gave back in kind mimicking him, especially his oft repeated "Mitron" (friends) reference, alleging that the PM always tries to instill fear among the people.
"You look at BJP's policies. Their entire aim is to scare the people of the country. Fear terrorism, maoism, demonetisation, scare the media. In two-three months, in the entire country, they have spread this fear," Rahul said.
Taking an apparent dig at Modi, Rahul satirised a song from movie Namak Halaal, saying "Aapka toh lagta hai bas yahi sapna, ram ram japna garibo kaa maal apna (It seems your only dream is to take away money from poor while chanting the name of Ram)".
He said, "These people want to rule over the country by instilling fear.Congress will defeat these people and remove them from power. We do not hate them or have anger against them. But we will defeat their ideology."
In his brief address, Manmohan Singh dubbed as "hollow claims" by the prime minister that things have started looking up and insisted that GDP will see a significant decline due to demonetisation.
"Modiji keeps on saying that he is out to transform the country's economy, that he will bring together all the things which will contribute to the steep rise in the income of the country. He knows now it is the beginning of the end," he said.
Rahul also utilised the occasion to raise the issue of personal corruption against the prime ,inister, wondering as to why he was silent on the Sahara-Birla diaries despite the opposition raising questions.
Former finance minister Chidambaram claimed there was no record of the Cabinet meeting of November 8 which, according to the government, had taken the demonetisation decision.