Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma on Wednesday dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make the list of Congress leaders with benami properties public in next 24 hours .
Sharma, who is also the party’s deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, said Modi’s accusation that Congress leaders held properties in the name of their drivers and cooks was “baseless, misleading and complete drama”. “I challenge Modiji to make all those names public, lodge FIRs and order arrests of such leaders. It doesn’t behove a person holding a post of a Prime Minister to make such baseless allegations. If he has any such information, it should be made public and action taken,” Sharma said on Wednesday – which was observed by oppostion parties as “black day” to protest against demonetisation.
Sharma reminded the PM that the Benami bill was passed by the Congress and it also took serious steps on the Lokpal bill. “Now, he (PM) is trying to put the Congress leaders in the dock,” Sharma said.
Addressing an election rally at Surendranagar in Mandi district on Sunday, Modi said the Congress was “shedding tears” over the November 8 demonetisation anniversary in the hope of stalling his “crackdown on benami properties”. “All those people who have amassed benami property, hidden it, collected it in names of others… The Congress may have many such leaders, some may have a car in their driver’s name, some have built a house in their cook’s name. I am telling these poor people, if Congress leaders tell you to return it, don’t do so, keep it,” Modi had said.
Sharma called demonetisation a “Modi-made disaster” and said the decision had failed to achieve any of the objectives that the PM had outlined on November 8. After one year, sufferings of the poor have rather multiplied, he said.
“The PM should reply to the nation as how much fake currency and black money have been seized after his unilateral decision as the official figures doesn’t give any indication in this regard. Demonetisation’s objective to stop funding of terrorists have also not been achieved as attacks on Army establishments and camps were still continuing resulting in casualties,” the Congress leader said.
Sharma blamed Modi for the death of 143 people while standing in queues at banks and said the SMSE sector saw 33 per cent loss of jobs. “The PM is squarely responsible for death of 143 citizens standing in the queues at ATMs. Job loses up to 33 per cent were reported in the SMSE sector. Overnight he (Modi) created a national project of money laundering by BJP leaders,” he said.
He also sided with former PM Manmohan Singh, who on Tuesday called demonetisation an organised loot and legalised plunder. “Singh’s fears of a 2 per cent dip in GDP has come true,” he said. Sharma quoted RBI figures to contest the government’s claim that the demonetisation decision was taken in the best interests of the country.
Sharma also criticised Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for calling the note ban decision a “watershed moment in the Indian economy”. “The facts presented by Jaitley are totally wrong and also misleading,” he said. Sharma said the slight improvements in tax collections was the result of a rise in the income of small tax payers.
The Congress leader also contested Jaitley’s claim about an increase in digital transactions and said it was only related to the transition period when new currency notes were not available immediately post demonetisation. He said even developed countries like US, China and France were still to switch over to a 100 per cent digital economy.