Modi's note ban is a monumental failure: Manmohan Singh

Akash Bisht @akashbisht | Updated on: 24 November 2016, 19:30 IST
Manmohan-rajya-sabha
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took the limelight with his Rajya Sabha speech on Thursday.

In what is being hailed as one of the finest political speeches, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday launched a scathing attack on the Narendra Modi government's demonetisation scheme even directly confronting the PM on multiple occasions.

Unlike his previous self, when he silently and timidly took all criticism leveled at him as prime minister, Singh's aggressive and measured criticism gave opposition the much needed shot in arm to take on the government, especially Modi.

The prime minister is likely to participate in the debate when it resumes and will have to come up with something special to counter Singh's arguments.

In complete contrast to his former self, Singh dared the prime minister to name countries where people are not allowed to withdraw money from their own accounts. "I would like to know from the Prime Minister the names of any country he may think of where people have deposited their money in their banks, but they are not allowed to withdraw," he said.

Taking dig at those who believe that currency ban would have greater economic benefit on the longer run, the former prime minister quoted John Keynes, "In the long run, we are all dead."

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Demonetisation is a monumental mismanagement: Manmohan

Labeling Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to abolish Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes as a "monumental management failure", former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said it was a case of "organised loot and legalised plunder".

Singh went on to add that country's GDP would decline by 2% which, according to him, was an "underestimate and not an overestimate".

"The national income can decline by about 2 percentage points... I feel that the prime minister must come up with some constructive proposal," Singh said in presence of Prime Minister Modi.

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GDP will decline by about 2%: Manmohan

Opening the debate for the Congress party in the Rajya Sabha, the former PM claimed he didn't disagree with the objectives of the government but feared such a move would dent India's agricultural and economic growth.

Prime Minister Modi finally made an appearance in the upper house where a united Opposition had been demanding his presence to discuss the issue. The Opposition had stalled the house since last week when Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha met for the Winter Session of the Parliament.

"In the process of demonetisation, monumental mismanagement has taken place. Today, there are no two opinions in the country. And in fact, it is a case of organised loot and legalised plunder. It is important to take note of the grievances of the common people who have suffered," Singh said.

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60-65 people have lost their lives: Manmohan

Singh went on to add that he is not aware of the full outcome of the demonetisation scheme and claimed that 50 days will bring about disastrous effects on the poor. The Prime Minister had in a rally in Panaji earlier appealed to the people to bear the "pain" for "50 days" to help him deliver the "India of their dreams".

"I say so with all responsibility that we do not know what will be the full outcome. Fifty days is a short period but for those who are poor, even 50 days can bring about disastrous effects. About 60-65 people have lost their lives," the former prime minister said.

Singh, a reputed economist, went on to add that demonetisation would erode people's confidence in the currency and banking system and questioned the prime minister to name countries where people have deposited their money in banks but are not allowed to withdraw it.

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This can weaken people's confidence in the banking system: Manmohan

Singh went on to add that he is not aware of the full outcome of the demonetisation scheme and claimed that 50 days will bring about disastrous effects on the poor. The Prime Minister had in a rally in Panaji earlier appealed to the people to bear the "pain" for "50 days" to help him deliver the "India of their dreams".

"In my opinion, the way demonetisation has been implemented will hurt agriculture, small industries and the people in the informal sector," Singh said who went on to add, "It is not good that every day, the banking system comes up with some modifications. That reflects very poorly on the prime minister's office."

Ever since the beginning of the session, the opposition had launched a frontal attack on the government for its failure to anticipate the shortage of cash ever since prime minister announced his decision to scrap higher denomination notes in the country.

Seeking a practical and pragmatic ways to provide relief to common man, Singh said, "It is not my intention to pick holes what this side or other side does. But I sincerely hope that the PM even in this late hour will help find us practical and pragmatic ways to provide relief to the suffering of the people of this country."

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Can the PM name one country where people deposited money but can't withdraw: Manmohan

Responding to the criticism leveled by the former prime minister, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley shot back and said it was ironical of the UPA government to call the demonetisation scheme a failure since it was under the previous government that maximum black money was generated in the country.

"We were not surprised when we heard from those who ran the government between 2004 and 2014 that they didn't like these anti-black money steps. The maximum black money was generated in the country between 2004 and 2014. Commonwealth Games scandal, the 2G corruption scandal, the coal block scandal all took place during this period," was Jaitley's response to Singh's scathing remarks.

Adding to this, the FM said, "Those who didn't consider these scandals to be a blunder are now considering this campaign against corruption and black money to be a blunder," he added. Accusing the Congress of running away from the debate on currency ban, Jaitley said the principal opposition party is looking for reasons to avoid participation on the demonetisation debate.

Jaitley shot down Singh's claims of currency ban bringing down country's GDP and instead mentioned how this move in the long run would have a positive impact on India's economic growth. "Lot of money that operates in the shadow economy will now be a part of banking structure. The banks will have a lot more to support the economy. The private sector investment which was so far lacking will now be back into the economy," he added.
First published: 24 November 2016, 14:45 IST
 
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