Former finance minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over demonetisation, said even the 14th century Delhi sultan, Muhammad bin Tughlaq, had implemented note ban 700 years ago.
Criticising Modi for the controversial move, Sinha at a function here claimed that demonetisation had hit the economy to the tune of ₹3.75 lakh crore.
"There were many 'shahenshas' (king) who brought their own currency. Some even kept previous currency in circulation while introducing the new one. But, there was a shahenshah 700 years back - Muhammad Bin Tughlaq - who introduced his own (currency) while discontinuing the old currency," he said.
"Thus, we can say that demonetisation was done 700 years back. Though Tughlaq is infamous for shifting his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad, he has also done demonetisation," Sinha said.
Tughlaq, who ruled the Delhi Sultanate for a short period of time in the 14th century, was known for his controversial decisions like shifting the capital of the Sultanate from Delhi to Daulatabad and introducing non-precious metal currency.
Sinha was invited by a group of activists under the banner of 'Lokshahi Bachao Abhiyan' (Save Democracy Movement) to share his views about note ban and the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
He claimed that the biggest problem of the country was unemployment.
"Time is running out to do something for the economy in the current situation," he said.
Citing a report by the 'Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy', the veteran BJP leader claimed that the direct cost of demonetisation would come around Rs 1,28,000 crore.
"The direct cost of note ban, such as printing new notes, would come around ₹1,28,000 crore. If we consider that the economy has slowed down by 1.5 per cent due to note ban, although I believe it is more than that, then it has made a dent of ₹2,25,000 crore more to the economy.
"Now add that direct cost of Rs 1,28,000 crore with this ₹2,25,000 crore. In total, our economy has suffered a loss of around Rs 3.75 lakh crore directly," he said.
Sinha, who was finance minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government, said demonetisation and the GST roll-out were treated just as "media events".
"We must think why we did that. We did it because nowadays everything is a media event. We started believing that no one did that before us. You should not forget that Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government was also there. If he has not done anything, then why did we give him Bharat Ratna?" said Sinha.