The Congress party on Friday announced that massive protests will be launched in each and every district of the country against a free trade agreement under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) from November 5 to November 15.
Addressing a presser at the Congress headquarters in Delhi, general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal said that the protests will be held in the state capitals also and will culminate in a public rally in Delhi.
“Highlighting the issues of a record 45-year high unemployment at 8.1%, unprecedented economic slowdown, rise in prices of essential commodities, collapse of the banking system and omnipresent farm distress among others, the party and its volunteers will raise the voice of the people and try to make this insensitive government accountable for the massive miseries and sufferings that it is causing,” said Venugopal.
PM Modi is expected to sign the deal in Bangkok around the same time.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a free trade agreement that is being negotiated among 10 ASEAN countries (Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Laos, Vietnam, Brunei and Cambodia) with their six FTA partners (India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand).
Protesting against the move in Bengaluru, former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah said the there will be no tax to 95 per cent of the products if the pact is signed. At present, the import duty is almost 25 to 30 per cent but if it is removed, the imported foreign products will become much cheaper.
"We will not be able to compete with excess production and cheap imports of foreign goods," he said.
Former Union minister Jairam Ramesh said that the RCEP will adversely affect the economy, if India signs the deal.
Blaming the Modi government for destroying the economy and compromising with the national interests, Ramesh urged the government to negotiate the deal with member countries.
“There is a text of RCEP, there is context of RCEP. The text is bad and the context is worse. Text can be negotiated but not the context,” he added.
Former defence minister A.K. Antony said that the Congress party will oppose the deal. He said government should try to revive the economy which is already sliding down due to demonetisation and GST, rather than signing a deal that will further worsen the situation.
Head of the Congress media cell Randeep Surjewala said that the RCEP is against the farmers and dairy industry. “BJP should not play with the interests of the nation,” asserted Surjewala.