Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday tore into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to demonetise 86% of the value of the currency in circulation, alleging that the whole exercise was aimed at waiving off the debt of about ₹8 lakh crore of the 50 rich corporates by forcibly making the poor and the marginal to deposit their money with the banks.
“The whole exercise has been disastrous for the country, especially the poor, the farmers and the labourers. It was PM Modi’s ‘surgical strike’ against them,” Gandhi said at the party’s ‘Jan Vedna’ conclave, which he presided over, in the national capital. He addressed twice the gathering of party workers from across the country. By implementing demonetisation, the Modi Government is only destroying the country, he charged.
“Demonetisation was a personal decision of PM Modi,” Gandhi said, adding, that PM Modi should ask himself why the poor are going back to the villages, not to the cities; why there's such an increased demand for MNREGA, which he had earlier mocked in Parliament; why auto sector—the fulcrum of 'Make in India'—has seen sales fall by 60%. “This isn’t the transformation India has been looking for,” he said.
“Modiji, how much black money has come back,” Gandhi asked. The Congress also issued a statement asking the Prime Minister to reveal what percentage of the demonetised currency notes was black money as practically all the demonetised notes have been deposited in banks, which exposed the hollowness of the government’s claims.
The BJP, RSS and PM Modi have weakened the country's institutions like the Reserve Bank of India, the Judiciary and the Election Commission in the last two-and-half years, he alleged. PM Modi has been jumping from one scheme to another—Clean India, Make in India, surgical strikes, demonetisation—but there was “no acche din” yet. “Acche din will come only when the Congress comes back to power in 2019,” said an aggressive Gandhi.
Taking repeated jibes at PM Modi, Gandhi said PM Narendra Modi's demonetisation announcement on November 8 sounded like a movie dialogue of Amitabh Bachchan. He went on to add that while the Congress’ philosophy was ‘Do not fear', BJP's philosophy, on the other hand, is to “spread fear and frighten the people’.
Both former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram reiterated that the country’s GDP growth would certainly go downhill.
“The worst is yet to come,” warned Singh, referring to the demonetisation decision as a “disaster” and squarely dismissing the “hollow” claims of PM Modi’s “propaganda” that things were looking up. The former Prime Minister said the countrymen should be made aware and protest against the mess created by demonetisation.
Chidambaram charged the Modi government of greatly damaging India's economy built brick-by-brick over the last 30 years. Taking potshots at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, he said that only the latter thought that India's GDP will not be hit. “The GDP growth will be hit by 1.5% at least,” he said.
Chidambaram said that none of the stated objectives—against corruption, black money, counterfeit currency—of demonetisation was met. The PM did not fulfill his promise of retrieving the unaccounted wealth and money stashed abroad, and instead was masquerading as a crusader against black money and corruption, said the former finance minister. And, in all this, the country’s image has been tarnished, he said.