Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national vice-president Dr Vinay Sahasrabuddhe drew flak on Monday for saying people sometimes die waiting in queue for ration. He was responding to a question on deaths of people outside banks waiting long hours to exchange or deposit demonetised currency.
Sahasrabuddhe, who is also the state BJP affairs in-charge in MP, was quick to add that they were not insensitive to the problems being faced by the people.
A retired government employee, Vinod Pandey, 69, collapsed outside the Union Bank of India’s Makronia Branch in Sagar city a few days back. He was later declared dead at a nursing home. In Madhya Pradesh alone, at least three people’s deaths have been directly or indirectly linked to the demonetisation drive.
In a surprise move last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes — comprising 86% of the currency in circulation by value — will no longer be legal tender from November 9, resulting in long queues outside banks and ATMs running dry.
Sahasrabuddhe dubbed the Prime Minister’s decision a “satyagrah”, undertaken to address the problem of black money. He said he expected the people to bear the inconvenience and participate in the movement.
The BJP leader’s apparently insensitive remark came when asked if the government knew that the people would die in this so-called “satyagrah”.
During the informal interaction with journalists at public relations minister Narottam Mishra’s house in Bhopal, Sahasrabuddhe also faced a volley of questions on hardships being faced by the people across the country.
He was unable to answer many of the pointed questions, including on what people could do if they required large amounts for a forthcoming wedding, but he assured that a feedback from the interaction will be conveyed to the concerned people.
Sahasrabuddhe instead alleged that corrupt people affected by the government’s decision were trying to defame it.