KOLKATA: You wait for hours at the bank, fight every inch of the way to the teller's window, hand in your old notes, receive the new notes and emerge into the sunlight inspecting the crisp new currency. You see that the new note bears the logo and slogan of Swachh Bharat.
Then an electric thought hits you: What if the ruling dispensation changes and there's another demonetisation in 2019?
That was the topic in the long queues at banks in Kolkata Thursday. “If the Congress or a grand alliance of anti-BJP parties wins the next election, will they carry on with the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes?” asked Agnabha Mitra, standing in the queue at a bank in Jadavpur this morning.
The new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 currency notes have the Swacch Bharat logo of round 'Mahatma Gandhi glasses' with ‘Swachh' and 'Bharat’ written in the the Devanagari script. The new notes have the slogan ‘ek kadam swacchata ki aur’ (one step towards cleanliness) below the logo.
“The Swachh Bharat logo was unnecessary. It seems as if the Centre is trying to use currency notes to promote its initiatives and campaigning for the 2019 elections. The next government will definitely change it and we the common people will be ‘bali ka bakra’ (sacrificial goats),” said a man named Soumyakanti Panja outside a bank in Naktala.
A senior BJP leader said it is not realistic to expect his party to lose the next election, so the prospect of erasing the Swachch Bharat logo is not likely.
That was about the only thing to smile about in the frustrating experience Kolkatans have had thursday out outside banks. Many banks here didn't have enough Rs 100 notes to give out, and so were limiting their payouts to a maximum of Rs 1,000 instead of the minimum mandated limit of Rs 4000. The situation may improve on Friday, one banker said.