FRONTING THE Opposition attack against the government’s note ban, two years after demonetisation was announced, former prime minister Manmohan Singh described the policy as an “ill-fated and ill-thought” exercise. The BJP hit back, asking why the Congress finds merit in protesting the government’s every “anti-corruption” measure.
In a statement, Singh said the second anniversary of the policy announcement is a “day to remember how economic misadventures can roil the nation for a long time and understand that economic policymaking should be handled with thought and care”.
Singh said the “havoc” unleashed by “notebandi” on the economy and society “impacted every single person, regardless of age, gender, religion, occupation or creed”.
Time, Singh said, is a great healer, but “unfortunately, in the case of demonetisation, the scars and wounds of demonetisation are only getting more visible with time”.
“Small and medium businesses that are the cornerstone of India’s economy are yet to recover from the demonetisation shock. This has had a direct impact on employment as the economy continues to struggle to create enough new jobs for our youth. The financial markets are volatile as the liquidity crisis wrought by demonetisation is taking its eventual toll on infrastructure lenders and non-bank financial services firms,” Singh said.
According to the former PM, the country is “yet to understand and experience the full impact of the demonetisation exercise” and with a “depreciating currency and rising global oil prices, macro-economic headwinds are also starting to blow now”.
He advised the government to not indulge in “further unorthodox” and “short-term economic measures that can cause any more uncertainty in the economy and financial markets,” and urged it “to restore certainty and visibility in economic policies”.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi said demonetisation is “unique in the history of our tragedies because it was a self-inflicted, suicidal attack that destroyed millions of lives and ruined thousands of India’s small businesses”.
Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma called demonetisation a “big money laundering project”. He announced that the Congress will conduct protests across the country Friday on demonetisation’s second anniversary.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said, “Demonetisation did not put an end to generation or use of black money. Almost on a weekly basis, the income tax department claims to have seized black money. The second goal of putting an end to fake currency was also not achieved. On the contrary, counterfeiters have successfully counterfeited the new Rs 2,000 and the new Rs 500 notes. And the third goal that the Prime Minister talked about, of rendering any currency notes worthless was also not achieved and the government did not reap a bonanza of Rs 3-4 lakh crore. All the demonetised notes — actually 99.3 per cent — were returned to the RBI… It was, therefore, the most ingeniously designed official money laundering scheme.”
The CPM said the “Indian economy is yet to recover from the disaster imposed on our economy and people by” Modi. The claims, it said, that demonetisation would “unearth lakhs of crores of rupees of black money and end corruption have proven to be utterly false”.
Hitting back, the BJP fired off 10 questions to Congress, asking why its finds merit in protesting the government’s every “anti-corruption” measure. “Why does the Congress find merit in protesting against every anti-corruption measure of the government of India? What do they fear? Why is it that wherever black money is there, the Congress is not far behind?” the BJP tweeted.
What sort of politics and “anti-development mindset” the Congress has that opposes a bold move that has widened the tax base, it asked. “Is the Congress living in a state of denial that it cannot see the surge in GDP numbers, the ‘Ease of Doing Business Rankings’ and Global Competitiveness Index? Why are they unhappy that India’s economic prowess is being recognised world over?” the BJP asked.
Targeting Chidambaram for his criticism of the government’s economic policy, the BJP said he is himself under radar of investigating agencies for “massive corruption”.
Taking on the Opposition for calling the day when demonetisation was implemented a “dark day”, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said it marks a day when the backbone of anti-national activities like terror funding and accummulating black money was broken. “It is a dark day for those who used to rob the country,” he said.