PATNA: Amid the bone-pricking winter chill currently gripping Bihar, a minister was hit hard by the demonetisation exercise as he failed to buy a muffler costing Rs 100 because he had only a Rs 2,000 note and the shopkeeper had no change.
“The Rs 2,000 note, only which is mostly dispensed by the ATMs across Bihar and other parts of the country these days, is proving a noose in the necks of the poor and the middle classes. People cannot buy a lot of necessary things of everyday use because of this big note,” said Ram, Bihar’s art, culture and youth affairs minister, on Wednesday.
He was in the north-eastern district of Kishanganj, of which he is the minister in charge, and went to a shop there to buy a muffler to get relief from the deep chill and thick fog. “When I wanted to buy a muffler costing Rs 100 and handed the shopkeeper a Rs 2,000 note that I had, he simply refused to take it and sell me the muffler. He did not have enough change to return me. He said he cannot accept a Rs 2,000 note for items costing below 500, and I did not want to buy a muffler priced above Rs 100,” said Ram, who is an MLA of RJD, the party headed by Lalu Prasad Yadav that is the largest constituent in Bihar’s three-party grand alliance government led by JD(U) stalwart Nitish Kumar.
“It was a very bad experience. Implementation of this entire demonetisation exercise has been shoddy and it is the poor and the middle classes who have been the worst sufferers,” said the minister, who is a two-term MLA and also currently president of RJD’s youth wing in Bihar.
Mindful of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s open support for demonetisation since the day it was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ram stopped short of describing the exercise as a negative or armful one. RJD, however, has been sceptical of the need and efficacy of the exercise and had called a daylong shutdown in Bihar but decided at the last moment not to enforce it apparently to ensure the party’s relations with JD(U) remained cordial enough to keep the alliance government afloat.
Senior RJD leader and party vice-president Raghuvansh Singh on Sunday targeted Nitish Kumar once again on the demonetisation issue, saying Kumar should not have supported it. “It will be no surprise if he (Kumar) allies with BJP. he has earlier been with that party,” said Singh.