The battle for 8 November: BJP to counter Oppn's offensive against demonetisation
Countering the Opposition’s growing offensive against the Narendra Modi government over the economic slowdown in India, BJP will observe a nationwide “anti-black money day” to mark the first anniversary of the sudden and ambitious move to demonetise high value currency notes on 8 November.
A day after Congress-led Opposition announced that it would be observing a “black day” on 8 November to protest against the “scam of the century”, union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley declared BJP’s plan of celebrating the demonetisation anniversary by educating the country about Modi government’s crusade against black money.
Prominent BJP leaders and union ministers are slated to hold various programmes across the country canvassing the benefits of demonetisation, and series of steps taken by the Centre in tackling black money and corruption.
This comes at a time when the Opposition has been intensifying the attack over economic policies of the BJP government holding demonetisation responsible for GDP growth rate plummeting.
While a host of prominent economists have criticised demonetisation, the RBI through its annual report too has corroborated claims of the entire exercise to be futile.
It’s not just the Opposition that has openly derided the economic policies of the government, but also BJP’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Opposition hasn’t understood demonetisation
Jaitley said the Congress and those criticising it haven’t understood the objectives of demonetisation.
“Congress had adequate opportunities to be in power and I can recollect a single significant step that they ever took against black money. They had reconciled to India living with a shadow economy. So it is quite natural that this would never be on the political agenda of the Congress and I can quite understand their discomfort,” he said, referring to Congress' relentless attack over demonetisation.
Countering the Opposition’s argument that demonetisation failed to eliminate black money, Jaitley said: “The Congress and those objecting to it have not understood the objective behind demonetisation. Cash is unidentified bearer money circulating in the system. Its ownership is anonymous, so when cash gets deposited in the banks, what was being laundered earlier now gets into the lawful system."
“So far, entry into the lawful system you are liable to pay tax. Those who have never fought against black money and were too happy with the laundering of money outside the system, now consider that the entry of cash into the system after paying tax to be laundering. This displays their inadequate understanding," he said.
“Mere entry into the system doesn’t legitimise it (cash), 18 lakh people who have deposited money, have been found as having deposited money disproportionate to their incomes and now they are being held accountable."
“Confiscation was never the aim of demonetisation. The aims were squeezing the quantum of cash, increasing digitisation, squeezing the resources of terrorists, detecting counterfeit currencies. Once, we have the fundamentals of the subject correct, we will be able to appreciate it better,” argued Jaitley.
The Finance Minister also ridiculed the Congress for criticising the mega recapitalisation plan for the public sector banks that involves a fund infusion of Rs 2.11 lakh crore in the banking system as part of government equity to help them tide over capital shortfall crisis.
“Those who destroyed the country, are now preaching to us. Between 2008 -12 there had been indiscriminate lending , the banks were all emptied and there was hardly any hope of recovery. They resorted to restructuring in order to prevent the real picture of the banks getting reflected in the books and misled the country and the people.
“Like they don’t know how to tackle black money because it was never in their scheme of things, similarly they don’t understand the steps being taken to revive the banks which they destroyed,” he said.
On the Gujarat poll schedule
Jaitley also attacked the Congress for targeting the Election Commission for not announcing the Gujarat Assembly polls schedule along with that of Himachal Pradesh.
“During the Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat, the Congress was singing praises for the EC and now they are criticising it. The EC cannot be brow beaten by a disgruntled and losing party," Jaitley said.
“Moreover, when the elections to the two states are within a gap of 4-5 weeks, isn’t it fair that the duration of the model code of conduct is similar for both the states?How it is fair to have 35 days of model code of conduct in the Congress ruled state (Himachal Pradesh) and 75 days of the code in BJP ruled Gujarat merely because the Congress deems it proper?" he asked.
“The election duration is three weeks so the code of conduct should be three weeks and few weeks over and above that. It would be wholly against the spirit of democracy if the code of conduct stretches to 70, 80 or 90 days,” added Jaitley.
Congress hits back
Meanwhile, the Congress hit back at the BJP for its plans to celebrate the “demon of demonetisation”.
“Modi-made disaster of demonetisation followed by an ill-conceived GST has decimated jobs and incomes. Instead of apologising for the death of over 150 people and unprecedented strike on livelihood of Common Indians, BJP is so drunk with power that it wants to celebrate the ‘Demon of Demonetisation’,” the Congress said in a statement.
The party also said that Modi should introspect and demit the office of prime minister, besides apologising to the nation for the unpardonable blunder. It also said he should order an immediate investigation into the demonetisation scam.
It also demanded to know if black money and fake currency have been eliminated and Maoist violence and terrorism have been curbed.
Modi announcing the decision to demonetise Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes had claimed the move would eliminate black money and counterfeit currency and break the back of left-wing extremism and terrorism by hitting their finances.