The Congress on Friday mounted a coordinated attack on the government over the economy, saying that its own advisors were warning of an unprecedented crisis with little sign of a turnaround plan. Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi led the charge with a shot on Twitter, followed by sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and the party's social media apparatus.
"Govt's own economic advisors have finally acknowledged what we cautioned for long - India's economy is in a deep mess. Now, accept our solution and remonetise the economy, by putting money back in the hands of the needy & not the greedy (sic)," he said, citing a statement by Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman of the government's think tank NITI Aayog.
Describing the current economic downturn as an "unprecedented situation", Rajiv Kumar had said, "From last 70 years (we) have not faced this sort of liquidity situation where the entire financial sector is in churn."
The comments from the senior economist come at a time the country's economy is facing the worst pace of growth in nearly five years.
"The BJP government has to clearly explain why the economy is in such a poor condition. Trade is down, industry is in crisis, the Rupee is getting weaker and jobs are being cut. Who is going to make up for this loss?" Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted in Hindi.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari addressed a news briefing, attacking the government. "More than three crore jobs are at risk," he said.
Social media handles linked with the party unleashed a barrage of posts, making "#EconomyGoneBJPMaun" (Economy Gone, BJP Silent) on of the top Twitter trends.
This no longer about fudged data & cover ups, there is a structural problem & the govt is doing nothing to fix it.— Congress (@INCIndia) August 23, 2019
The BJP must stop hiding from the facts & accept the damage done in order to save India from economic collapse. #EconomyGoneBJPMaunpic.twitter.com/XQ8wT8P5Xu
India's economic growth has slowed in the past three consecutive quarters, losing its status as the world's fastest-growing major economy to China, with unemployment at its highest since the 1970s, according to government data.
The automotive sector is particularly stricken, with car sales plunging 31 percent in July, the ninth consecutive monthly drop, prompting manufacturers to halt production at some plants.
India's largest biscuit maker Parle Products warned this week that it might have to lay off up to 10,000 workers if the government doesn't cut sales taxes.
Gross domestic product or GDP grew 5.8 percent in the final quarter of 2018, down from 6.6 percent in the previous quarter.
Economists at financial services firm Nomura predicted this week a further slowing of momentum, forecasting growth of 5.7 percent in the first three months of 2019. GDP data are due next Friday.
With his comments triggering the huge row, Rajiv Kumar issued a clarification, tweeting: "I would request the media to stop misinterpreting my statement. The government has been taking bold steps to accelerate our economy & will continue to do so. There is no need to panic or spread panic."
(With inputs from agencies)