NEW DELHI: The Congress on Sunday slammed the government over demonetisation, alleging that the Modi government has continuously changed the explanatory reasons for carrying out the measure four years ago and it has "destroyed" the economy.
On November 8, 2016, Prime Minister Modi announced the decision to ban all currency notes of higher denomination of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 from midnight.
The Congress observed the fourth anniversary of demonetisation as "Vikshwasghaat Diwas" (betrayal day) and ran a social media campaign 'SpeakUpAgainstDeMoDisaster'.
Congress general secretary Ajay Maken at a media briefing quoted former prime minister Manmohan Singh's remarks on November 24, 2016, to hit out at the government.
"The way this scheme has been implemented -- is a monumental management failure, and in fact, it is a case of organised loot, legalised plunder of the common people," Maken quoted Singh as saying.
"Modi ji's government continuously changed the explanatory reasons for carrying out demonetization," Maken said.
The Congress leader said that at different points, these were -- to counter black money and corruption, to stem out fake currency or "counterfeit", for a "digital or cashless" economy, to tackle Maoism, terrorism and separatism, to bring idle savings into banks, to expand and deepen the tax base, to arrive at a bigger, cleaner and real GDP and for faster economic growth, to bring down real estate prices and to partner with the GST.
Maken also made a point by point rebuttal of the various objectives cited for demonetisation.
On the assertion that demonetisation has helped in reducing black money and corruption, he said 99.3 per cent of the demonetised currency came back to the system.
"As far as corruption is concerned, we have seen a surge in the use of immense money power in poaching MLAs and destabilising non-BJP led state governments," Maken alleged.
On counterfeit currency, he asked why have incidents of fake and counterfeit currency notes increased after demonetisation.
Hitting out at the government, Maken asked why cash transactions had increased after demonetisation and whether a cashless economy was even desirable.
"How has Maoism, terrorism and separatism been impacted by demonetisation," he asked.
Maken also argued that demonetisation did not have any positive impact on savings and had adversely impacted real estate and also resulted in job losses.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi slammed the government over demonetisation, alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's move four years ago was aimed at helping a few of his "crony capitalist friends" and had "destroyed" the Indian economy.
Gandhi and the Congress have been alleging that the 2016 demonetisation was not in the interest of the people and had adverse effects on the economy, a charge the government has dismissed repeatedly.
In a video released as part of the party's online 'SpeakUpAgainstDeMoDisaster' campaign, Gandhi said the question is how the economy of Bangladesh "surpassed" the Indian economy as there was a time when India used to be one of the most high performing economies of the world.
"The government says that the reason is COVID but if that is the reason, there is COVID in Bangladesh and elsewhere in the world also.
The reason is not COVID, the reason is 'Notebandi' and GST," Gandhi said in Hindi.
As part of the campaign, Congress leader P Chidambaram said, "The first lesson every ruler and every government must learn is that - even if you do not do good to the people, do not do harm. The BJP-led NDA government did great harm to India's economy on November 8th, 2016."
Several senior Congress leaders such as Mallikarjun Kharge, Shashi Tharoor and Salman Khurshid slammed the government over demonetisation as part of the party's online campaign.