The ban on high-value banknotes was a panic decision by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that also showed that the government was ready to bulldoze its policies through even at the cost of undermining institutions such as the central bank, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has said.
Gandhi also said the demonetisation decision will cost the BJP dearly in the five-state assembly elections.
“It’s a devastating step for anybody who is part of the legitimate cash economy,” Gandhi told The Hindu.
The Congress has been very critical of the BJP-led government’s move to pull to Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and says that it has heaped misery on the people, especially in the rural areas.
Gandhi alleged that the government “just decides things and asks the RBI to sign off”.
“If you don’t want to sign off on these decisions, leave, we will put someone else in your place who won’t have that problem,” the Congress leader said amid growing allegations that former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan was opposed to the demonetisation exercise.
“The right-thinking people in the RBI said that. I believe the last governor refused to go ahead with it. There is no space in the Modi government for the ones who disagree,” Gandhi added.
On the Congress’ pre-poll alliance with the ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, Gandhi said it was aimed at creating “a younger alternative for UP and provide a vision to the state”.
“The way we have designed it, they (the SP) are suggesting a few things, we are suggesting a few things and we have a broad framework within which we are going to operate. On the personal side, it’s great, there is no problem at all. There is a lot of common ground. Akhilesh (Yadav) has good intentions and he has an open mind,” Gandhi said.
Assembly polls in the state are being held in seven phases and voting will end on March 8.
On a question on the importance of assembly polls for national politics, Gandhi said they will provide the people’s answer to the way the country is being run by the BJP-led government.
“I think the BJP is trying to impose a particular ideology on the country. They are trying to do it by capturing national institutions and filling these with people who believe in their ideology. Their policies are resulting in quite a lot of discontent. That is what is building the opposition to the BJP. Generally, poorer people, those belonging to weaker sections, are feeling the pain and they are building up the resistance to the BJP,” he added.
He also denied suggestions that the Opposition has failed to counter the Modi government.
“There is no failure on the part of the Opposition. We are going to win the next election. What I am pointing to is Modi’s inability to carry anybody with him. To his way of decision-making, his unilateral way of operating, not even taking senior members of his Cabinet along — they don’t feel part of a team. One man can’t run this country.”