Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Thursday said Bharat Jodo Yatra has changed Rahul Gandhi’s “Pappu” image. “His image has changed a lot after the Yatra. People would talk ill about him, call him Pappu… There was a perception that Rahul Gandhi would sit on a dharna one day and be in a foreign nation the next. But for 150 days at a stretch he was meeting every person of the society and raised pertinent issues. That’s not the mark of a scoot-and-shoot politician,” he said.
Tharoor also took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that Rahul Gandhi has the ability to talk about issues like unemployment, inflation, etc at press conference. “How many press meets has PM Modi addressed in the last eight years,” he asked. “If there is one political leader who’s ready to openly discuss the issues of the nation, it’s Rahul Gandhi,” he added.
He also acknowledged that Rahul Gandhi’s ‘mitra kaal’ dig at the government was a political statement with substance. “It was meant to show the world that the Budget 2023 was meant to benefit just a few billionnaires close to the government. Just 1% of people hold 40% of the assets in our country,”Tharoor said.
Rahul Gandhi, soon after the Budget announcement by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, had termed the Budget as ‘mitr kaal Budget’, a play on the government’s ‘Amrit-Kaal’ Budget. “NO vision to create Jobs. NO plan to tackle Mehngai, NO intent to stem Inequality,” he tweeted. Tharoor called the Union Budget 2023 as ‘anti-climactic’. “We thought the government would do something for the common man, at least keeping in mind the upcoming election. But the Centre has completely forgotten him,” he said.
“MGNREGA received the record-low allocation. Even last year, the government had to bring in a supplementary demand for fresh funds for the scheme,” he said while speaking at ABP Budget Conclave. He also lashed out at the government over the “record unemployment” in the country. “The unemployment rate has touched a record high of 16% among the age group of 18-25 years. The figure is 40% in Kerala, where I come from,” Tharoor said.
According to Tharoor, the capital expenditure outlay of Rs 10,000 lakh crore will not be enough to alleviate the problem of unemployment. He said: “It seems the government is looking to provide jobs to only those who know how to make roads.
But there are people who have other skill sets as well… There are doctors, postgraduates, and others. What about them?” For three years the government has been increasing capex, but there has been no difference in the unemployment rate.
Tharoor acknowledged that the previous Congress governments had their own problems, but he stressed that they built the foundations of a strong economy. But this government has cut the social security net for people with this Budget. He also criticised the new tax regime, saying that there is no deduction available in it.