MUMBAI : Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said that public sentiment has gone against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre due to "all-round failures" like rising unemployment and factories shutting down and also attacked decisions like demonetisation and the GST.
"Unemployment is increasing all over the country, agriculture sector is distressed and farmers are killing themselves, there is high inflation, the financial sector has failed and the poor sections are very upset. The public mood is against the government and we must prepare for elections," Pawar told mediapersons.
He said that with 67 textile companies shutting down rendering 17,600 people jobless, Larsen & Toubro, Infosys and Suzlon terminating thousands of services, Mahindra & Mahindra removing 17,000 employees, the coming days are going to be difficult for the country.
Besides, there are no fresh investments coming to the country. Slogans like 'Make In India' sounded very attractive initially, but have now proved to be hollow, Pawar pointed out.
He blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the current situation saying economic decisions like demonetization and GST taken by him without adequate preparations have taken a heavy toll on the economy.
Targetting Modi's pet project of the Bullet Train, the NCP chief said instead of reducing the sufferings of the Mumbai commuters, the (Bullet Train) project is being brought here "which will help Japan come out of the economic recession it is facing".
Though it is the fastest train in Japan it does not have a market there and the project will help reduce that country's ongoing economic crisis, he said.
He showed a video clip of Modi when he was the Gujarat Chief Minister, in which he had said that the Bullet Train would be a showpiece project and nobody would travel by it.
"There are only four stations of Bullet Train in Maharashtra and a 35-minute long journey. Then why should the state provide half the funds for the project?" Pawar demanded, adding it should have been implemented on other sectors instead of Mumbai-Ahmedabad.
On last week's stampede which killed 23 commuters on a narrow railway foot overbridge connecting Elphinstone Road-Parel, Pawar cited the example of the then Railway Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri who resigned after a railway disaster, "but that is unlikely to happen now."
Giving a call to the party to prepare for elections, Pawar predicted that wherever the BJP is in power, it will hold simultaneous state assembly and Lok Sabha elections, and "the NCP must prepare accordingly".
The people vent their frustrations through social media and the government is "retaliating" by sending them (police) notices - "What you sowed through social media, now you are reaping", said Pawar.
"In a democracy, every citizen has a right to express himself. The government should not try to threaten the people by sending them notices and attempt to curb individual liberties," Pawar said.
Attacking the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, he said the government had promised a complete waiver of farm loans, then why are the farmers being asked to fill up different types of forms to establish the eligibility criteria.
Pawar announced a convention of all farmers organisations at Aurangabad on November 5 to be followed by a non-cooperation movement if the government does not give the farm loans waiver by Diwali, an anti-inflation agitation across the state followed by a farmers' agitation with support of like-minded parties, which he would lead.