NEW DELHI: Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the currency demonetisation a crusade against corruption and black money, a united Opposition accused his government of creating an “economic chaos’’ by for implementing demonetisation without adequate planning or preparation.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi claimed that he had spoken to a number of economists, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, and that they were all of the view that demonetisation may not have the desired goal of fighting black money but could derail the economy instead.
He also questioned the logic behind phasing out of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 rupee notes and replacing them with a note of even higher denomination. “If fighting black money is the objective, how will Rs 2,000 rupee note help in cleansing the system,’’ he said.
The Congress vice-president alleged that the demonetisation move “has been prompted by political considerations’’. But the Congress was not the only Opposition party to think so or raise the political heat on the demonetisation move. Some others, such as the Trinamool and the AAP, asked for a complete rollback of the decision.
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, was a little more nuanced. He asked the Centre to allow the common people to transact business of essential commodities in the old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes till December 31, by “which time the new currency will be fully in circulation”.
Two state governments run by the Left parties, Kerala and Tripura, have already written to the Centre seeking permission for a more gradual phasing out of the demonetised notes. “We’re not demanding the withdrawal of the move, but crores of people have been inconvenienced. Twenty-five people, we’re told, have committed suicide. When we raise the issue the house tomorrow, we’ll tell the government to make alternative arrangements,’’ the CPI’s D Raja said.
The JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav maintained that his party would further fine-tune its strategy after another meeting on Wednesday. The Opposition meet which preceded the all party meeting was attended by the Congress, Left parties, DMK, BSP, SP, Trinamool, RSP and the JMM. The only difference was over the protest march to Rashtrapati Bhavan, proposed by the Trinamool.
With just about every political party speaking up on the cash crisis, the Centre can expect the issue to become a political hot potato. But it’s certainly not the only issue on which the Prime Minister and the government will get it from the Opposition this session. Surgical strikes, the OROP suicide and inter-state river-water disputes will follow the demonetisation crackers.
And in an embarrassment for the ruling BJP, its oldest ally, the Shiv Sena, decided to side with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool in Parliament to oppose the demonetisation process.
Meanwhile in the Delhi Assembly, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused Modi of using his mother for political gains and protecting his friends in the corporate world. “Huge corporate loans of Rs 1.14 lakh crore werewaived. They take money from the rich and force people to queue up outside banks. In the name of strong tea, you have fed them poison” he said.