In a scathing attack on the Narendra Modi government, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday dubbed demonetisation a “thoughtless move” and “the worst assault on the poor” in the country.
“This is the worst assault on the poor in the country. Demonetisation has broken the back of 45 crore people. It is punishing the poor. I see no rich man affected by the ban,” the Congress leader told a press meet here.
“Daily wagers are out of work. Village markets and mandis have been shut for the last 30 days ” Chidambaram said.
Terming the exercise as “absurd” and “thoughtless”, he sought to know how many economies in the world are cashless.
“World over small transactions are done in cash not by cards. To assume that India will go from 3 per cent to 100 per cent cashless in a matter of a few months, is an outlandish expectation,” he said.
It was an illusion that demonetisation was created to hurt the rich and help the poor, he said.
Highlighting the woes of the people in remote areas, he said, “The pain in rural areas is indescribable. Imagine the plight of people in the seven state in northeast. There are only 5,000 ATMs in the region of which 3,500 are in Assam but most of them are shut. How are they going to access cash?”
He said 65 per cent of the ATMs across the country have no cash.
The Congress leader also said that recent cash seizures in Rs 2,000 notes across the country point to the “biggest scam” arising out of the note ban.
He sought to know that when the government scrapped old currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 and brought in new tenders of Rs 2000, how are hoarders getting it and how came recent seizures in Delhi, Bangalore and Jaipur and other places yielded new notes.
“On November 8, the PM suddenly announced demonetisation with three objectives — to curb black money, corruption and terror funding. How can a terrorist killed in a recent encounter carry two pieces of Rs 2000 notes and crores of rupees in form of new currency bills. Are they reaching directly in the hands of those found with the notes,” he asked seeking a SIT probe into the entire episode.
“Notes are sent from printing press to currency chests and then to respective banks,” he said.