West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday asked the government to roll back the demonetisation drive if they fail to fix its ‘faulty’ implementation in three days.
In a public rally at the Azadpur market in New Delhi, Kejriwal alleged a conspiracy behind Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to spike 500 and 1,000 rupee notes that has led to a rush for cash across the country.
He called the after-effects of the demonetisation drive a ‘crisis’. “People didn’t have cash even to buy meet basic needs,” he said.
“If this was indeed against corruption and black money, the first to support you would have been Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party,” he said.
“Take back this decision in three days... Don’t test people’s patience. Otherwise, there will be a ‘bagaawat’ (revolt) by people,” he added.
He reminded the crowd that before entering politics, he was an Income Tax commissioner, and said the decision is well beyond his understanding.
“This is the biggest scam of independent India,” he alleged.
He said banks had given out loans to the tune of Rs 8 lakh crore to corporate houses. This money, he alleged, was siphoned off or had been partly written off by banks.
“Nothing is left of the 8 lakh crore loan money... The demonetisation is a conspiracy.”
He said the government expected to net 10 lakh crore rupees by asking people to surrender the spiked currency and write off the bad debts.
“Do you think people are fools?” he asked. “Don’t fool us. Don’t say that standing in queues (outside banks and ATMs) is patriotism.
“Why are Ambanis and Adanis not being raided? Why are those with Swiss bank accounts not being raided? Why is the rest of India in queue?” he asked.
Addressing the rally earlier, Banerjee said the government’s decision had led to economic instability in the country.
“What did they say? Achche din (good days) are coming. Is this achche din?” she asked, taking a jibe at Modi’s slogans that his government would bring in better times for India.
“Truckers tell me they don’t have money to pay drivers. Trucks are the lifeline of the nation. What will happen if trucks stop running and mandis stop getting vegetables and fruits?
“What will people eat? Diamonds? ATMs? What kind of a joke is this? There is no money for people to buy food, baby food, medicines? What will farmers do?” she asked, adding the situation was not this bad even during the Emergency period.
The Trinamool Congress chief said she supported the government’s move to curb black money but won’t let the mayhem continue in the name of fighting corruption.
“If in three days you don’t withdraw, we will step up our protests,” she said.