The day after opposition parties said they will observe November 8 as a black day to protest Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to withdraw high-denomination currency, the BJP on Wednesday announced that it will celebrate the first anniversary of demonetisation as an “anti-black money day”. Addressing the media at the BJP headquarters, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the event would be a “priority programme” for the party, and senior leaders as well as Union ministers will participate in it. The fight against black money, he said, cannot be “achieved in baby steps”.
Jaitley, who on Tuesday announced several measures to revive the economy, which the Opposition says has taken a beating following the decision to implement demonetisation and GST, said the battle against black money has been the top priority of the BJP-led NDA since it took over in May 2014. Jaitley also listed steps taken by the government to counter black money: constitution of a special investigation team, reworking of bilateral double taxation treaties, curbs on cash expenditure, digitisation of commercial transactions, and demonetisation.
Of late, the BJP has been apprehensive over public reaction to the impact of demonetisation, and the hiccups in the implementation of GST, and has revived its campaign over the fight against black money. Asked whether the BJP is concerned about the public sentiment, Jaitley said: “The people are cleverer and have understood (reasons for demonetisation). That’s why they are giving a resounding support to the party in all elections. These are not one-off campaigns, (and) this campaign would continue to persist because it is a part of a larger programme of the party.”
He claimed that demonetisation has served all its three objectives — to squeeze cash economy, promote digital transactions in business, and widen the tax base — and said that sale of gold through digital transactions doubled on Dhanteras festival this year.
On the Congress’s criticism of the demonetisation process, Jaitley said, “The Congress had adequate opportunity to be in power (but) I cannot recollect a single significant step they ever took against black money. They have reconciled to India living in (a) shadow economy, and it is quite understandable that it will never be on their political agenda. I can understand their discomfort…”