Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya on Sunday lashed out at the opposition for calling protests Monday against demonetisation even as he said his ministry was making efforts towards the financial inclusion of unorganised sector workers and to bring them into the banking system, so that they got DBT and other benefits.
“People are very intelligent. We did not expect such a support from them. They have faced inconvenience even to buy food and to travel…all sections, middle classes and all (have supported). Now, the opposition calling to observe ‘akrosh diwas’ is (political) bankruptcy,” he told reporters in Hyderabad.
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Dattatreya claimed that the prices of certain natural resources such as sand were falling and the “artificial hike” in real estate prices was also witnessing a “downward trend” following the Centre’s decision to demonetise high-value currency notes, adding that the people were supporting the move.
“President Pranab Mukherjee, who was the finance minister in the UPA government, hailed it (demonetisation), but (Congress vice president) Rahul Gandhi does not even have that understanding,” he said. “At least, now, the opposition should come for a constructive debate in Parliament. They should withdraw their call for protests tomorrow,” he added.
Noting that it took three months in the US for an alternative system to evolve following a similar decision (demonetisation), Dattatreya said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had only asked for 50 days. “He (Modi) appreciated those facing inconvenience in his ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio address,” he said. The government was taking steps like recalibration of ATMs to put an end to the inconvenience of the citizens, he added.
The Union minister said he had written to the chief ministers for forming state-level committees, with labour and banking sector officials in them, for opening Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana bank accounts for contract, construction, beedi, anganwadi and other unorganised sector workers. “26 crore (PMJDY) accounts are there so far. There are 38 crore unorganised sector workers. The number of workers in the organised sector is 6.50 crore. We have started the process for opening PMJDY bank accounts for all of them,” he said.
Dattatreya said he would also hold zonal conferences –south, northeast, west, central, east and north — involving the state labour ministers and officials on the issue. “We are trying to get them DBT and into the technology mode. I will speed up the process after going to Delhi,” he said.