A Bharatiya Janata Party legislator’s statement that industrialists Ambanis and Adanis already knew about the demonetisation before it was announced may hit the party’s image hard. This also raises questions about the BJP’s inability at this crucial juncture to keep its house in order.
The legislator in question is Bhawani Singh, an MLA from Kota, Rajasthan. He claimed that Ambanis and Adanis knew about the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes prior to announcement of the ban on November 8 and it gave them an opportunity to sort their money in advance.
The time is crucial for the BJP. It has several key pieces of legislation to pass in this session and elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh coming up. Any slip ups will hit the party hard. PM Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley have insisted that sudden announcements were because of secrecy concerns over demonetisation process. However, Bhawani Singh’s allegation, which amounts to breach of confidentiality by some within the system, are anything less than serious and the Opposition may latch onto this for cornering the government further.
The government has come under severe criticism for its sudden announcement and several political parties have called for a joint parliamentary committee probe into the demonetisation move. The move was apparently aimed at making black money accumulated by people as null and void, but has ended up causing huge inconvenience and cash crunch for the general public.
The ban on these currency notes meant that 86 per cent of the paper currency in circulation became invalid. In such times, Bhawani Singh stated that the process could’ve been planned properly and could’ve moved step by step which in a way rubs salt on wounds of the government. He has claimed that the currency ban was ‘unplanned’ and ‘the government could have given people some time to get things in order.’
BJP will want to rein in MLAs criticising moves announced by the prime minister himself. As it stands, the issue holds potential to washout much of the Winter Session of Parliament. Thursday saw repeated adjournments in both houses after Opposition parties kept up their high pitch against the currency ban and questioned the prime minister’s absence from the Parliament when an issue directly affecting the 1.3 billion population of India was being discussed.