Claiming that demonetisation and its after-effects might have cost a Rs 3.75 lakh crore loss to the nation, former finance minister and veteran BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Tuesday likened the termination of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes to the one implemented 700 years ago by Muhammad-Bin-Tuqhlaq, the Sultan from Tuqhlaq dynasty who ruled Delhi from 1325-1351 AD.
“In history, a number of emperors, monarchs and kings have conducted demonetisation… About 700 years ago, there was an emperor in this country, who introduced his currency and ended the circulation of the older one. Demonetisation happened 700 years ago. The emperor’s name was Muhammed-Bin-Tuqhlaq. He is infamous in history for shifting the capital of his empire from Delhi to Daulatabad,” Sinha said referring to Tuqhlaq’s move to replace gold and silver coins with token currencies made of copper and bronze.
Speaking at an event organised by “Lokshahi Bachao Abhiyan”, where former Gujarat chief minister Suresh Mehta was also present, Sinha said, “Demonetisation was considered so important that the PM decided that he himself will announce it, instead of allowing the RBI Governor or the Finance Minister to do it. While announcing it through an hour-long speech, he mentioned black money 74 or 75 times. Fake currency and terrorism were also mentioned, but no where was digital and cashless economy mentioned.”
The veteran BJP leader said when Modi felt the targets of demonetisation were not being achieved, he started talking about cashless economy. “Nobody had cash then. The country had already turned cashless,” said Sinha as the audience, largely consisting of senior citizens in Thakorbhai Desai, Hall applauded.
Sinha said Modi himself had said 18 lakh deposits were being probed after demonetisation. “A message is going across the world that India is a nation of thieves; we all are involved in illegal activities; there is nobody honest here,” said Sinha, while claiming that the entire process of demonetisation and the dip in economic activity together had caused a loss of Rs 3.75 lakh crore to the nation.
“These days, a there is a new tradition. Everything is a media event. Nobody has done anything before us is a remark that has become common. Atal Bihari Vajyapee ruled the nation for six years. If you say, nothing has been done for the last 70 years, then has Vajpayee ji done anything that was worth taking note of? If that is so, then why was Bharat Ratna given to AB Vaypayee,” Sinha said, adding that the stand taken that “only I am right, and nobody else is” cannot work.
He also narrated how Vajpayee emphasised on reaching a “consensus” with the opposition parties about United States when the Iraq war broke out. “I learnt a very important lesson from Vajpayeeji. Consensus should be created… Opposition (parties) is not an enemy,” he remarked.
Sinha said that the deadlines of every promise that the government made before ascending power in May 2014 had been extended to 2022. “We have to tell the people of this country what all we did in 2019,” he quipped.
Economy standing on one leg
Talking about the state of the economy, the former finance minister said, “Today the finance minister claims that our economic fundamentals are strong… Our fiscal deficit is under control at around 3 per cent, our current account deficit is around 1.25 per cent, inflation is under control, stock markets are booming and there is an atmosphere of happiness and peace all around. Now, we also have a certificate from US President (Donald) Trump.” Sinha said all this was due to the low prices of international crude, which fell from $110 per barrel in May 2014 to $29 in the subsequent months after the NDA government took charge in New Delhi.
“This (the fall of crude prices) did not happen because of us. It was not that the lion of Gujarat roared and all the oil exporting countries got scared and decided to lower the prices,” Sinha remarked. He said the government had failed to take advantage of the fallen crude prices and did little to boost domestic economy.
“What we are seeing today is the silence before the storm. Now the prices of crude has increased to $60 per barrel, the stock markets have turned volatile, the rupee has weakened against the US dollar and the feeling of comfort that existed, now seems to be ending…I do not want to be a prophet of doom,” Sinha said, adding that the rise in crude prices could destablise the economy.
“Today our economy is standing on a single leg,” Sinha said. He said the economy’s lone support was low prices of international crude and nobody could predict how much longer the prices would remain subdued. “Domestic demand and domestic savings will be the guiding principles of Indian economy, not foreign demand and investment,” he added.