New Delhi, Nov 4 : The Congress has sought to take credit for India not joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), saying the “forceful opposition” by it and its leader Rahul Gandhi had made the government “back down”.
In a series of tweets here on Monday, Congress national spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “A forceful opposition by the Congress and Rahul Gandhi ensured that the BJP government back down from bartering the interests of farmers, dairy producers, fishermen, small and medium businesses at the altar of political expediency.”
“A victory for all fighting for protecting national interests,” he tweeted.
His remarks came soon after the government decided against joining the 16-nation RCEP trade deal, saying it was not shying away from opening up to global competition across sectors but had made a strong case for an outcome that is favourable to all countries and all sectors.
According to sources, in his speech at the RCEP summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “The present form of the RCEP agreement doesn’t fully reflect the basic spirit and the agreed guiding principles. It also doesn’t address satisfactorily India’s outstanding issues and concerns in such a situation.”
The Congress leader said with rampant unemployment, a sinking economy and deep agrarian crisis emanating from utter mismanagement of economy by the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) government, signing the RCEP would have been “catastrophic”.
“The Modi government was pushing to sign the RCEP without addressing genuine concerns and national interests. India’s farmers and MSMEs had genuine unaddressed concerns about circumvention of ‘rules of origin’ to dump Chinese goods, absence of safeguards to prevent against import surges at the cost of domestic industry, and no assurance on market access for service and IT industry,” Surjewala said.
On Saturday while addressing the party leaders, Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi opposed the government move to sign the RCEP deal.
“As if the government’s economic decisions have not damaged the economy enough, it’s now ready to deal a body blow by signing the RCEP agreement – the regional free-trade pact of 16 Asian countries,” she said.
It would result in untold hardship for farmers, shopkeepers, small and medium enterprises and serious repercussions for the people, she said. “We can ill-afford to become a dumping ground for products, including agricultural produce from foreign countries,” she remarked.