Referring to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) report that 99 per cent of the demonetised currency was restored in the banking system, former finance minister P Chidambaram on Friday said the return of junked notes proved that note ban was introduced to help people convert their black money into white.
“If it has all come back to RBI, then the logical conclusion is three-four lakh crore of black money has been converted to white. So, there is a suspicion, in fact, it is a charge that you devised this demonetisation only to enable people to convert their black money into white,” Chidambaram was quoted as saying by ANI.
He added, “If all the currency notes have been exchanged, then obviously a significant portion of black money stock in the country has been exchanged. The government had claimed that three-four lakh crore will not return to the RBI and that would be the black money stock.”
Asserting that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was not consulted prior to the decision, Chidambaram said, “In fact, many of us think that the finance minister was not taken into confidence when demonetisation was announced.”
The former Union minister also hit out at NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar for saying that demonetisation had helped curb cash transactions. “The cash in the hands of the people is almost 1.4 per cent more than what it was on November 8, 2016 (when note ban was announced). Why are holding people cash? People are less confident in putting their cash in the banks and more comfortable in keeping them at home,” Chidambaram alleged.
Reiterating the government’s objectives for banning the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the senior Congress leader said, “We are going by what Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said on November 8, 2016. He had set three objectives, that is, curbing black money, stopping terror financing and putting an end to counterfeit currency. So why should I consider any objective other than the three objectives announced by the PM?”
On Thursday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi had launched a scathing attack on PM Modi, alleging that note ban had only helped the prime minister’s “crony capitalist friends”. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi carried out demonetisation to help 15-20 of his crony capitalist friends. That was the aim of demonetisation. PM’s friends converted black money into white money during demonetisation,” Rahul had said.
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