Whatsapp Snooping On Journos, Activists ‘Shameful’: Sonia

New Delhi:  Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi on Saturday criticised the government over the WhatsApp snooping row, saying it was not only “illegal and unconstitutional” but also “shameful”.

She also slammed the government over economic slowdown and said while the economy is under siege, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was busy managing headlines and events.

Addressing party leaders during a meeting here, Sonia said, “There are so many other issues of which you will be aware. The latest shocking revelation that through the Israeli Pegasus software acquired by the Modi government, snooping and spying activities on activists, journalists and political persons have taken place. These activities are not only illegal and unconstitutional, they are shameful.”

Sonia was addressing the meeting of party general secretaries, state in-charges and office bearers of the party’s frontal organisation here to discuss the party’s preparations for the 10-day protest across the country over the issue of economic slowdown and several other issues.

“It pains me to see the Indian economy under siege. What is even more worrying is that the government is in complete denial. Instead of acknowledging the severe slowdown and looking for a comprehensive resolution Modi is too busy managing headlines and events,” she said.

The Congress leader said that this cavalier attitude comes at a high price, a price that millions of Indians especially the unemployed youth and farmers are having to endure.

“The economic crisis is worsening by the day. The GDP growth, is at best only 5 per cent during the first quarter. It is not just a six-year low. This signifies a deep crisis. This is a sign of weak demand, low consumption, no investment and, as a result no jobs,” she said.

She also pointed out that the unemployment levels at nearly 8.5 per cent is “most disturbing”.

“Far from creating jobs, recent studies now suggest that demonetisation, a messed up GST and subsequent economic decisions of the Modi government have resulted in an unprecedented loss of 9 million jobs during the last 6 years,” she alleged.

Talking about agrarian crisis across the country she said that any reasonable assessment of the Indian economy must focus on the plight of farmers.

“India’s rural economy has collapsed with growth rate hardly of 2 per cent in the first quarter. They were promised that their income would be doubled in a short period but are left to battling a deceleration in wages while prices have shot up. This perhaps explains why the sale of FMCG goods in rural India, has recently hit a 7-year low,” she said.

She further highlighted that India’s economic woes were not confined to the domestic front. “Inconsistent and defective policies have seen exports shrink at a time when India could have been a big beneficiary of the global trade wars.”

“As if the government’s economic decisions have not damaged the economy enough, it is now ready to deal a body blow to it by signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) – the regional free trade agreement of 16 Asian countries.

“This will result in untold hardship for our farmers, shopkeepers, small and medium enterprises with serious repercussions for the people. We can ill afford to become a dumping ground for products – including agricultural produce from foreign countries,” she said.