With the Reserve Bank of India report revealing that nearly 99 per cent of the demonetised notes had come back to the central bank, the Opposition tore into the government, saying its claims of having curbed black money, terror funding and counterfeit currency had been “exposed”.
The main Opposition Congress sought an apology from the Prime Minister for having “unleashed financial anarchy” in the country and heaping “misery” on the people. It called demonetisation a “fraud” perpetrated on the nation.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, in a tweet using hashtag #DemonetisationDisaster, said: “A colossal failure which cost innocent lives and ruined the economy. Will the PM own up?” His senior colleague and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, in a series of tweets, said: “99% notes legally exchanged! Was demonetisation a scheme designed to convert black money into white? RBI ‘gained’ Rs 16,000 crore, but ‘lost’ Rs 21,000 crore in printing new notes! The economists deserve Nobel Prize. Rs 16,000 cr out of demonetised notes of Rs 1544,000 cr did not come back to RBI. That is 1%. Shame on RBI which ‘recommended’ demonetisation.”
Anand Sharma of Congress said the RBI report “finally exposes the claims made by the Prime Minister and the government and also conclusively proved that the objectives of the reckless decision of demonetisation have not been met. The fight against black money, counterfeit currency and terror funding… none of them have been met… Will the Prime Minister take responsibility for the financial anarchy that his decision unleashed… will he apologise for the tens of millions of jobs which have been lost and take responsibility for taking away 1.5 per cent of India’s GDP?”
Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called demonetisation “a flop show” and asked: “Is not the RBI’s revelation this evening on demonetisation pointing to a big scam?… Due to this “Notebandi”, the Nation has lost Rs 3 lakh crore of GDP in the fourth quarter alone. Demonetisation was supposedly done to uncover several lakhs of crores of black money. And now what we have got is a big big zero!
“The people of India demand an answer and a thorough investigation on this… our humble prayer would be that the Hon’ble Supreme Court provides justice to the people of this country,” she said.
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said “hundreds of people” died in queues trying to exchange the scrapped notes. And “all this for what? Lives and livelihoods were lost, the economy got a shock, workers lost their jobs. India can never forgive the Narendra Modi government for this anti-national act. The boasts of black money, terror and counterfeit currency ending, have all fallen flat. Despite the RBI’s delays, truth is out,” he said.
Samajwadi Party MP Surendra Nagar said that the RBI data shows that the government ha “totally failed” in its stated objectives behind the decision. “This in fact exposes that the decision of demonetisation was taken not to check black money but for political reasons keeping in mind the Uttar Pradesh elections. Common people were made to stand in lines and had to face harassment while those with black money were able to bring it into the system,” Nagar said.
Janata Dal Secular general secretary Danish Ali saw a “scam” in the whole exercise. “People with old currency notes are still clamouring to deposit their money while old currencies have also been recovered from people in recent raids. Even after this, 99 per cent money has come back in the system, it shows that there has been a kind of scam in the whole exercise and even fake currency notes have somehow got deposited in banks,” he said.
CPI general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy said the RBI report had exposed the “myth and bogus claims of unearthing black money through demonetisation”.
“According to the report, 99 per cent of the currency of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes that was under circulation has come back to Reserve Bank and new currency was issued to them… If 99 per cent of the currency has returned, where is the black money which the government claimed to have unearthed?… Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley should tender apology to the nation for the injury they caused to the people and the economy. This has proved to be the most unwise decision of the Modi government,” he said.