The Congress on Sunday said it has not called for a Bharat bandh on Monday to protest withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes and said the party was against such shutdown. The main Opposition party also criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cashless society slogan as a “ridiculous proposition”. The party said the decision to scrap big-denomination currency was a “political” move that is “being sold as a step against black money”.
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“The Prime Minister is talking about cashless society. Which world is he living in? Is he living in India? Cashless society can happen after 100 years, but the reality today is that our economy runs on cash,” senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said.
He said only 2 per cent of India’s population uses plastic money. “Our prime minister is a soundbite prime minister. Less cash to cashless — it sounds good on television. It is a good line, but the reality is different,” he said. “I don’t think India can become cashless in the next 15-20 years. It can be a long-term goal, but what is the reality. India cannot be a cashless society by force or by shock. There are a little over 2 lakh ATMs, 1.3 lakh branches…it will take time..”
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He claimed that to get Indian economy back on track, “the government needs to create 1,200 crore in 500-rupee notes and for this, it will take 250 days”.
“Does the Prime Minister want to have a cashless mandi? Does the PM want to have the unorganised sector working cashless? I am sorry to say it’s a ridiculous proposition to say that India will become cashless and all these different sectors of the economy will become cashless,” he said.
Ramesh added that the BJP was spreading misinformation that the Opposition had called for a Bharat bandh Monday. “The Opposition parties will hold protests by observing Jan Aakrosh Diwas,” he said.
“We are against a bandh. We will extend all support to any protest movement, any protest campaign, any public procession. But we are not in favour of and we certainly have not called for a Bharat bandh. We don’t have to call a Bharat bandh because Bharat is already bandh from November 9 onwards. Narendra Modi has already shut down India. All economic activity has come to a halt..the rural areas, the agriculture sector, the unorganised sector, small and medium enterprises all have been closed down,” Ramesh said. He claimed that the decision to scrap high-denomination notes was a political move because the Prime Minister wanted to hide his government’s failures and since he believes in “dhamaka” approach to governance to change the narrative.