Barely three days after he made an appeal to those with Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) accounts to not return black money deposited in their accounts, MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan seemed to make an about-turn on Wednesday, ruling out the possibility of black money in such accounts.
He said that even if PMJDY accounts have some black money, it must be a nominal amount.
The chief minister’s statement, made in the assembly, came after the House witnessed uproarious scenes and a walkout by the Opposition, which wanted a discussion on its adjournment motion on inconvenience caused due to the demonetisation of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 banknotes.
“Madhya Pradesh has 2.23 crore Jan Dhan accounts, in which Rs 1000 crore was deposited after demonetisation was announced, taking the total money in them to Rs 3000 crore. Thus, each of the account holders had deposited Rs 500 each. A poor man must have Rs 500... The poor have earned the money,” Chouhan said.
This was in contrast to a speech he made on December 4 at Bhopal’s Jamboree Maidan, when he had urged PMJDY account holders to not entertain the plea of the rich who wanted to park their black money in their accounts. “PM has already said don’t return the money to them. If they ask you to return their money, write a letter to the PM and also the CM,” he had said.
Earlier, acting leader of the Opposition Bala Bachchan and fellow Opposition legislators Ramniwas Rawat, Mahendra Singh Kalukheda, Arif Aqueel, Mukesh Nayak and Jeetu Patwari, during Question Hour, pressed for a discussion on the grievances and the impact of demonetisation on farmers.
Speaker Sitasharan Sharma adjourned the House for 10 minutes. When the House resumed its business, the MLAs were on their feet again, raising their demands. As the CM agreed to a discussion on the adjournment motion, the Speaker allowed the same, suspending Question Hour.
Bachchan claimed that Madhya Pradesh had seen suicide of at least 15 farmers affected by demonetisation and that people were migrating to neighbouring states. He also said that there was chaos in the entire state and farmers were still waiting for relief packages.
In his reply, Chouhan justified the demonetisation and said that though there was some inconvenience to the people, the decision had been supported across the country. He also said that the sowing area in the state had increased significantly — from 77.23 lakh hectares in 2015-16 to 95 lakh hectares in the corresponding period this year.
He also said 20.50 lakh farmers were to get Rs 4400 crore from December 10 onwards under the crop insurance scheme, down from the earlier Rs 4600 crore. The CM also said that the price of fertiliser had come down.
However, expressing their dissatisfaction with Chouhan’s answer, the Opposition staged a walkout, leading the CM to accuse them of being “escapists” and “unable to face reality”.