Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Friday again backed Centre’s demonetisation move, terming it “a bold and positive step in the fight against black money”, even as the Opposition parties tried to corner the Centre.
He, however, said the Centre should have done its homework to prevent unnecessary hassles for the common people.
“I am always for any step to fight corruption. I am not the kind who will talk of roll-back. Most parties are for it. I feel ultimately it will yield benefits, but demonetisation alone is not enough. It will have to be taken to another level with crackdown on benami property and transactions in gold/diamond,” Kumar said interacting with the media in the Bihar assembly. “The Centre should also take into account illicit liquor trade in the country.”
Kumar’s stand is not unexpected, considering his own crusade against corruption, which resulted in several top public servants losing their houses and bungalows as Bihar’s anti-corruption law allows confiscation of property of the accused. Even during his Nischay Yatra, he spoke for demonetisation.
Though JD-U’s two Grand Alliance (GA) partners — the Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal – have been critical of the move, Kumar said the Bihar government had itself waged a war against corruption and opened schools and remand homes in houses seized in disproportionate assets cases.
“There is no confusion in the GA, though it is not important for all political parties to feel the same way on all issues. The alliance is for Bihar on a common programme and there is no problem with that. But in case of certain national issues, there can be differences of opinion,” he added.
Kumar said it was his view that demonetisation was no ordinary step to curb black money.
“It is a bold move, though the Centre should have prepared well before going for it. There should have been enough small denomination notes in the market. I take a stand and stick to it. Even when I was in NDA, I supported President Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature as President,” he said.
The Bihar CM said even former PM Manmohan Singh had not spoken out against demonetisation in the Lok Sabha. “He is a renowned economist. He spoke about the hardship of the masses due to lack of proper planning and I also say the same. No matter how people interpret it, I fully support demonetisation, but there should have been greater planning, which is an issue of management and governance,” he added.
However, he said it was Opposition’s right to protest.
“Mamata (Banerjee) ji had talked to me earlier, not recently. I told her even President Pranab Mukherjee, who is himself a renowned economist, spoke in favour of demonetisation and he must have given a statement after feeling that way,” he added.
Kumar said his stand might be misinterpreted in more ways than one, but he could not help it. “I have a strong feeling that it will ultimately result in recovering a lot of black money, which will go to the state. The crackdown on benami property should not just focus on land, but also on investments in gold and diamonds. It must be taken to its logical end,” he said.