Opposition parties came on the same page on Thursday to launch an attack on the Modi government.
Uttar Pradesh political stalwarts Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati demanded immediate rollback of the Centre’s decision to abolish high-value notes, likening the move to the period of Emergency in the late 1970s.
Samajwadi Party (SP) patriarch Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati — bitter rivals facing tough assembly elections next year — seldom speak the same language on any subject.
But they were on the same page on Thursday against the Narendra Modi-led NDA government’s decision to pull 500- and 1,000 rupee notes out of circulation.
“The Modi government has slapped Emergency without sending people to jail and the BJP cares only about elections, not the problems faced by common people. The government has spread anarchy in the entire country, common man is not even able to buy daily products,” Yadav said.
Both Yadav and Mayawati called the move anti-poor, saying it served the interests of only “big industrialists” who backed the BJP.
The Centre’s decision is considered a blitz against black money that has blighted various sectors, including the electoral process as politicians are accused of bribing voters with illicit funds.
But the two Uttar Pradesh parties, which have been ruling the state alternately since 2003, said demonetization exercise is the BJP’s ploy to divert people’s attention from “failures of the BJP government at the Centre” before elections in the state.
“Just before UP elections, Modi has realised the problem of black money after remaining in the saddle at the Centre for two-and-a-half years … 90% people are unhappy with this decision,” Mayawati said.
Yadav too said as much, alleging that Prime Minister Modi took the hasty decision to hide his failure in bringing back Indian money stashed in foreign countries that he had promised to do in his campaign speeches before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
The 76-year-old chief of UP’s ruling party accused the Centre of unleashing untold hardship on the people, especially farmers and daily wage-earners.
“They don’t have money to buy even one square meal now. The hasty decision was taken at the behest of a few big business houses. I know their names, but won’t like to reveal them,” Yadav said.
He, however, clarified that his party too is against black money and its use in elections.
“We are against black money. SP has fought against it. We do not want use of black money in elections,” he said.
For her part, Mayawati called the Centre’s decision anti-Dalit and anti-poor.
“It hurt the poorest of the poor as they don’t money to buy food. Modi took the decision to harass people after making his party economically strong by helping industrialists and capitalists.”
She said the people will punish the BJP in the UP elections.
Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal too lashed out at PM Narendra Modi and challenged him to make public the names of the 648 Indians with Swiss bank accounts whose details, he said, were given to New Delhi during the earlier UPA rule.
Insisting that the demonetisation will not check corruption, Kejriwal asserted that the problem of black money could be tackled if Modi ordered the arrest of Indians alleged to have maintained Swiss bank accounts.
“But you won’t arrest them because they are your friends,” he said.
(With agency inputs)