MUMBAI: Congress leader P Chidambaram today attacked the Narendra Modi government for obliterating everything about India before it came to power and said it believes there was no civilisation prior to that. "As far as the present government is concerned, India began, civilisation began only on May 26, 2014," Chidambaram said at the Tatas-run Mumbai LitFest here today while addressing a panel discussion on 'Banking for the bottom billion'.
The former Finance Minister was referring to the NDA government not adding the 13 crore no-frills accounts, opened during the UPA regime, with the Jan Dhan ones that were opened during the present government's financial inclusion drive. While the UPA government had opened these accounts between 2004 and 2014 under its financial inclusion drive, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had relaunched this under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana on August 28, 2014, under which around 25.51 crore accounts have been opened so far.
Chidambaram noted that as many as 13 crore no-frills accounts were opened under the UPA rule, but are blacked out now. "These 13 crore accounts which we opened between 2004 and 2014, under the guidance of C Rangarajan, as far as the (present) government is concerned, they don't exist, they are blacked out," he said, adding that "Jan Dhan is only another name for no-frills accounts". The Congress leader praised the government's efforts for this financial inclusion drive, but said by simply opening an account, one's behaviour can't be changed.
"People must have money to deposit in the account, they must have a need to borrow from that account, otherwise account will remain dormant. So, how does our bankers jugad sense work? The government pulls them up for saying dormant accounts, they put one rupee from their pockets in those accounts," he added. Earlier in the day, he had said the after-effects of the demonetisation will last longer than expected as it was carried out without much thinking and he also doubted if the government had consulted its Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian on this before taking the decision.
"You are seeing the first-order effect of withdrawing, sucking out 86 per cent of the currency in circulation from the market. The first order will continue for several weeks now. Then, you will see the second-order effect," he said. "My suspicion is the only knowledgeable economist in the government Arvind Subramanian was not consulted," he said.