NEW DELHI: A year after Prime Minister’s televised announcement of demonetization, the BJP and Congress unleashed political slugfest on Wednesday even while Union ministers fanned out across the country to drum up support for the party to counter “black day” spearheaded by the Opposition outfit. Union ministers reeled out statistics to claim that demonetization proved to be a masterstroke by Prime Minister even while the Congress termed it a tragedy which destroyed lakhs of lives.
Sticking to the party strategy to project those against demonetization decision as supporting corruption and black money, Prime Minister said that he bowed to the people for supporting the move. The BJP had prepared a number of video films and charts to suggest that demonetization was a run-away success. Prime Minister, Union Ministers and BJP leader tweeted such films and charts to claim that demonetization choked terror and Maoist funding, besides substantially bringing down incidences of stone pelting in Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir. Union Minister for Law Ravi Shankar Prasad even claimed that demonetization adversely affected prostitution, as flesh trade was hit.
However, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi called demonetisation a tragedy, saying it destroyed millions of lives. The Congress demanded PM Modi’s apology on the first anniversary of the controversial move.
“Demonetisation is a tragedy. We stand with millions of honest Indians, whose lives & livelihoods were destroyed by PM’s thoughtless act,” Rahul tweeted.
To score a political point in PM Modi’s home state, Rahul visited Surat in Gujarat and met traders who have been affected by noteban. “Their backs have been broken,” said Rahul.
The Congress vice president also wrote an article in the Financial Times of London where he said PM Modi’s reform agenda had actually hurt the economy.
“It has destroyed not only India’s growth story, but has also rendered crores of people jobless as businesses have shut down. That is something that Prime Minister should apologize for,” Congress communications department chief Randeep Surjewala said at an AICC briefing. “But it seems that the Prime Minister of the country is so drunk with arrogance of power that he is refusing to see reason,” he said.
However, the BJP chief strongly reacted to the statement of Gandhi, while accusing him of being a “tragedy manufacturer”. “The Congressmen were happily sharing photo of DK Shivkumar standing in a queue and withdrawing money from an ATM in Karnataka. After that what happened we all know as hundreds of crores of rupees were recovered from his house,” Shah said.
The BJP social media team also went into an overdrive to claim that the photo of an ex-service man, Nand Lal, shared by Gandhi had actually praised demonetization.
Congress state units staged protests in Delhi, Mumbai, Bhopal, Bengaluru to mark the first anniversary of noteban as black day. Indian Youth Congress (IYC), Mahila Congress, Seva Dal and NSUI also joined the protests across the country. “Demonetisation was called by the PM as a game changer but it has failed completely and only contributed to the misery of people,” Youth Congress chief Amarinder Singh Brar said.
Highlighting the plight of women, Mahila Congress president Sushmita Dev said noteban had wiped off their small savings.“Small savings were destroyed by Demonetisation. Is legitimate cash saved in households by homemakers Black money,” said Dev.
Surjewala said the day also marked the anniversary of the 150 people who lost their lives due to noteban.