(IANS) Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday supported the jewellers protesting against the imposition of excise duty on non-silver jewellery, saying the government proposal will crush small businessmen.
“We stand with you for your cause. I am not here to make speeches. I feel your pain, I stand with you. It’s not your fight alone, it’s ours too. I and the Congress stand with you,” Gandhi said at a rally of the All India Bullion Jeweller and Swarnakar Federation at Jantar Mantar here.
“This is not an excise duty on you. This is an attempt to crush you. You are being killed. But why are you being killed? Who will benefit from this?”
“Our target is to free you of your pain and fear. We will try to convince (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi ji, make him understand your problems. We will try to convince the leaders of his party (BJP) also. We will put in all our might in this exercise,” the Congress leader said.
Taking a dig at the prime minister, he said: “Modi ji says his ‘mann ki baat’ but doesn’t want to understand the ‘mann ki baat’ of others.”
He said Modi’s ‘Make In India’ scheme would benefit only a few big industrialists and not the common man.
“The idea of ‘Make in India’ is to throttle small businesses through excise. Big industrialists will be benefitted and those people who extract money from your profit through pressure and blackmail,” Gandhi said.
He also invoked Mahatma Gandhi, comparing the ‘charkha’ associated with the Father of the Nation with ‘Make in India’s ‘lion’ symbol, saying that while the former was powered by the strength of small businesses, farmers and labourers, the latter symbolised a handful of five to ten big industrialists.
“When Modi ji talks about Make in India, he actually refers to five to ten big industrialists. Traders associated with jewellery don’t have factories of Rs.10,000 crore. They have small units,” he said.
Jewellers have been holding nationwide protests for more than a month against the government’s budgetary proposal to impose one percent excise duty on non-silver jewellery and making PAN cards mandatory for transactions of Rs.2 lakh and above.