Ridiculing the Centre’s demonetisation policy, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram today said many former RBI Governors had opposed the move, so the Modi government must have “consulted some RSS pracharak” before taking the decision.
He said the government’s move from demonetisation to ‘remonetisation’ was not “notebandi” but “notebadli”.
“…it is a decision taken without consulting those who should have been consulted. The Finance Secretary, the banking secretary and the Chief Economic Advisor were not consulted, so who was consulted?…they must have consulted some RSS pracharak,” Chidambaram said addressing a meeting of Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee here.
The former finance minister said a series of RBI Governors had opposed demonetisation for 27 years and none of them thought demonetisation was the answer.
“We had Raghuram Rajan as Governor for three years. He did not think demonetisation was the answer and he categorically told the government ‘no’..do not do demonetisation. Then, a new Governor (Urjit Patel) comes and in 64 days, he agrees for demonetisation,” he alleged.
Chidambaram said no major country has demonetised its currency in the last 50 years.
“History books will show that Zimbabwe, North Korea, Libya and…India demonetised its currency…It is a shame…May be this government thought these were the most prosperous countries in the world,” he said.
“First they (Centre) talked about demonetisation and now they are saying remonetisation. Of the 15.44 lakh crore worth money demonetised, every rupee has come back to RBI. Now you are remonetising. Why are you doing this? Why should you demonetise and then remonetise…this is not ‘notebandi’ but ‘notebadli’,” Chidambaram said.
He said he would have resigned as Finance Minister during his tenure, if the then Prime Minister had insisted on demonetisation.
“Why did you do it and what was the purpose of this exercise? Anyway, people are aware that this is the biggest scam of 2016,” Chidambaram charged.
“They (Centre) demonetised 2,400 crore notes. The capacity of all four printing facilities…if they work round-the-clock for every month is 300 crore. So, to print 2,400 crore notes it will take eight months.
“We are now coming to the end of three months (since demonetisation was announced)…half of the ATMs are not working…most ATMs do not have currency,” Chidambaram alleged.
Citing seizure of new notes across the country, the senior Congress leader asked, “How did the new Rs 2,000 bundles reach wrong hands…how did they get the new currency notes…it is the biggest scam of 2016. Ordinary people could not get their own money.
“They (government) said this (demonetisation) is to put an end to corruption. I look at the new notes….is it written anywhere on these that they are not valid for giving bribe,” Chidambaram quipped, adding, “The person taking bribe in old notes will now do so in new currency.”
The Congress leader said due to demonetisation, thousands of people were put to misery.
“Everyday, 11 crore people are standing in queues for hours to take out their own money. Thousands of farmers have been affected…every commodity price crashed. There are 45 crore people in this country who depend on daily income,” he said.
“Manual labourers and others… for four to six weeks had no work…the government does not utter a word of giving compensation to such people and they (Centre) have started talking about cashless…” said Chidambaram.
Further explaining his stand against demonetisation, the former union minister said, “80 per cent transactions in Germany and Austria is cash-based, in Australia it is 60 per cent, Canada 56 per cent and US 46 per cent, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi says India will go 100 per cent cashless.”
All these are attempts to confuse and deceive people, he alleged.
“Did people ask for demonetisation and cashless society?…These are serious issues we must take to the people. Did BJP say before elections that they will demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes? They said they will put Rs 15 lakhs in people’s accounts, but now they are not allowing you to take out your own money,” he charged.
“We delivered 7.5 per cent average growth over 10 years (under UPA rule). Here they (NDA) have adversely impacted India’s growth,” Chidambaram added.