Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, who had implemented a Voluntary Disclosure Scheme (VDS) to unearth black money during his tenure, today said the present government had carried out demonetisation in a “haphazard” manner causing “unimaginable sufferings” to the people.
The JD(S) chief said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should have spoken on demonetisation in Parliament “so that we could reply”.
“The best thing would have been that the Prime Minister should have made a statement in the House on the very first day of the ongoing Winter session” regarding the decision which he had already announced on November 8 when Parliament was not in session, Gowda told PTI here.
“We are not against efforts to curb black money. But in my opinion, the Prime Minister announced demonetisation without any preparation. It was done in a haphazard manner,” said the Lok Sabha member who has been waiting to speak on the issue in the House but could not due to its non-functioning.
Gowda said 22 days have already passed since the announcement was made by Modi in a nationally-televised address but people, particularly the farmers and the labourers, continue to go through “unimaginable sufferings”.
Noting that the Prime Minister had asked people to “tolerate” the difficulties for 50 days, he questioned, “How long does this government want the people to suffer?”
The senior leader from Karnataka said in his state, banks do not have enough cash and they close down as early as noon, leaving people high and dry. It was a hasty decision by the Prime Minister without proper assessment which has put the country in an awkward situation,” he emphasised.
83-year-old Gowda, who was Prime Minister from June 1996 to April 1997, recalled the VDS implemented by him during his tenure which had unearthed Rs 10,000 crore of undisclosed money. Referring to the regular alterations being made in the implementation of demonetisation scheme with regard to withdrawal caps and other aspects, Gowda asked, “How many amendments, modifications, changes have been made every day? Changes are still going on.”
Finding faults with the government, he said it had first introduced gold bonds, which “did not yield any results”.
Then it brought Income Declaration Scheme during which about Rs 65,000 crore were disclosed, Gowda said, even then the government failed to recover the “so-called black money” entirely.
“Now suddenly another idea flashed the Prime Minister’s mind…Who gave him the advice? Did he consult any colleague,” he questioned.
“Now the government has pushed the Income Tax amendment bill also,” he added.
Talking about problems being faced by the people, he criticised the cap on withdrawals, questioning why should even a salaried person not be able to take out as much money as he requires.
“I have salaried account but I cannot withdraw money as there is a cap of Rs 24,000 on withdrawals per month,” he said.
Turning to Modi’s comment that he wants to unearth black money amassed during last 70 years, the former Prime Minister said he was “hurt” by the remark which painted all former governments negatively.
“Who created this black money? Are we all included? Is Atal Bihari Vajpayee also included? Are we all responsible for this creation of black money? This remark hurt me,” he said.
He said the Prime Minister should not have made a general remark against all those who have run the country with regard to black money generation. On Modi’s campaign to make India a cashless society, Gowda said, “I don’t know whether the dream of the PM will come true.”