Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, holding him “responsible” for the “complete failure” in implementation of the demonetisation initiative and the “unprecedented rise” in terror attacks against armymen.
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Pawar’s attack against Modi, which comes a day after the month-long winter session of Parliament ended amid the storm over the demonetisation row. The Maratha leader had originally praised Modi for the decision on demonetisation. Also last month, Modi had publicly admired Pawar’s role as a mentor during his early days in politics at a function in Pawar’s bastion, Baramati.
On the demonetisation row, Pawar said, “While there is no doubt in my mind that the demonetisation of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes would have helped curb black money and boosted the economy, there has been a total operational failure of the government in implementing it, which has left the common man reeling and the economy in disarray.”
“The old saying that the operation was a success but the patient died sums up the Centre’s fiasco in the implementation of demonetisation,” he added.
“You (Modi) take such a major decision, but do not prepare for it. The government and those behind the move cannot simply wish away the responsibility of the pain and hardship people are facing due to the poor implementation,” said Pawar.
He also fired a barb at the Centre over unearthing of Rs 200 crore in new currency notes during raids on certain businessmen, hawala operators and politicians. “On the one hand, the common man is grappling to find cash to make ends meet while, on the other, the Income-Tax raids have caught some people with crores in new currency notes. The latter suggests someone in the official machinery had helped some take away crores in cash through the backdoor. The Centre is to be held responsible for this mess too.”
But Pawar’s sharpest attack against Modi was in the swipe he took against him over the unchecked terrorist attacks coming from Pakistan. “I’m concerned about national security. Our information is that between February 4 and December 9 this year, the country has braved 162 terror attacks. Of these, 104 attacks have been on the country’s security forces, which have seen 57 armymen martyred. Never has the country seen such a spike in attacks against armymen,” said Pawar.
The NCP chief said, “Prior to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Narendra Modi had consistently counselled the then UPA government to ‘stop writing love letters to Pakistan’ and had used the 56-inch chest rhetoric. But national security has been under seige and no concrete action is being taken.”
When a reference was made to the surgical strike across the border in October, Pawar quipped, “You (Modi government) build such an environment around one strike, but fail to enact concrete steps to guard our borders.”
Pawar added that he was “not politicising” the national security issue and that the Opposition was willing to walk with the government in this regard. “But the terrorist attacks demand a firm response,” he said.
On demonetisation, Pawar claimed that the aftershocks of the poor implementation have already been felt in the economy. “The worst-hit is the farm sector and small-scale businesses. But the government does not seem to be taking the distress signs seriously. The construction sector too has been hit,” he said.
Dropping names of two manufacturing giants (names withheld), the NCP chief said the companies had begun laying off employees. “All this will lead to a rise in unemployment. But the government does not seem serious about it,” he said. Pawar also criticised the Modi government for curbs on transactions of district cooperative banks.