Updated: December 16, 2016 9:07:35 am
BJP president Amit Shah, who called a meeting for a feedback on the government’s demonetisation move, has been told by party MPs from eastern Uttar Pradesh that its electoral prospects in the state could be affected if the cash crunch is not resolved by mid-January. Assembly elections are due in Uttar Pradesh early next year.
Sources said almost all MPs, who attended the meeting at the NDMC convention hall in New Delhi on Wednesday evening, told the BJP chief that the “goodwill and enthusiasm in favour of the party” after the September 29 surgical strikes on terror launch pads along the Line of Control had been “overshadowed by the distress over note bandi (withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes)”.
The meeting was attended by over 30 MPs from Uttar Pradesh. Shah is meeting the remaining party MPs from the state on Thursday evening.
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Sources said Shah assured the MPs that he would convey their concern to the government.
“Almost everyone who spoke said note bandi is turning out to be a bad message for the party’s electoral prospects. People will soon lose patience if normalcy is not restored by ensuring availability of currency notes in banks,” one of the MPs who attended the meeting said.
“Many were of the view that the surgical strikes had created a good atmosphere, one that would have benefited the party. People, especially the youth, were very excited about the party and the government. But the demonetisation exercise has led to distress in villages,” the MP said.
The biggest concern of the MPs is the low availability of currency notes in banks and the long queues outside ATMs.
Party MPs, sources said, also voiced “displeasure” over the “attitude of private banks” and the “long rope” being given to them. Some of the MPs said because their earlier complaints against private banks had remained unaddressed, it had only emboldened these banks, sources said.
Shah asked the MPs to tour their constituencies and “take a round of all villages before the declaration of candidates” so that people do not complain that their representatives never cared to visit them before the polls, sources said.
The MPs were pleased at being called by the party chief for a feedback. “Only such meetings make us confident about decisions,” one of the MPs said.
Similar concerns over demonetisation and a cashless economy were expressed at a separate meeting of small-scale industrialists at a seminar on Wednesday evening. Organised by the Laghu Udyog Bharti, an affiliate of the RSS, the seminar was attended by Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal.
Sources said participants told the Minister and Sangh leaders present that the demonetisation exercise had given “indiscriminate power” to tax authorities. Many small-scale industry units, they said, were being forced to lay off employees and cut down production because of the cash crunch.
On Thursday, however, Shah was given a positive feedback on demonetisation by BJP office-bearers. “The message was that the demonetisation exercise would yield 100 per cent good results for the party. It is true that there is some hardship, but people are happily facing these problems. People have faith in the Prime Minister, that what he is doing is for the good of the country. There is no dip in his popularity,” a party general secretary said after the meeting.
According to one leader who attended the meeting, Shah reiterated that the government had to take tough decisions for the good of the country. “He said the party has to fulfil promises made to the people, especially to the poor. We need to bring in more money into the system. The party has to support the government,” the leader said, referring to Shah’s address to BJP office-bearers.
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