Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said the maximum black money was generated during the earlier Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government’s rule, hitting back at former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s sharp criticism of his successor Narendra Modi’s demonetisation decision.
“The steps this government has taken are right and are being implemented in the right manner… We are not surprised when we hear from those who ran the government between 2004 and 2014 that they do not like these steps against black money,” he said.
“The maximum black money was generated in this country between 2004 and 2014. The biggest corruption scandals pertaining to the Commonwealth Games, the 2G spectrum and the coal blocks took place during this period,” he added.
Jaitley said people who did not consider these scandals to be blunders were now considering the campaign against black money and corruption to be a blunder.
Former prime minister and Congress’ Rajya Sabha member Manmohan Singh was sharply critical of the government’s move to demonetise 1000 and 500 rupee notes, describing the post-demonetisation chaos as “organised plunder”.
“This is the exact rational argument that they will put forward in the debate in Parliament as it takes place. But it’s obvious that the opposition is uncomfortable with the debate and are inventing... manufacturing reason to run away from the debate,” Jaitley said.
The Rajya Sabha on Thursday resumed discussion on the government’s demonetisation move after facing repeated adjournments for the past five days.
However, the opposition again forced adjournment of the house in the post-lunch session over its demand for the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the debate.
Singh’s comments found support in an unlikely corner, the Shiv Sena, an ally of the ruling BJP.
The Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray dubbed the move as “extortion of common man” and asked the BJP to take Singh’s words on the issue seriously as it came from a “renowned economist”.
“I will not hesitate in taking a critical stand on the process in which demonetisation was implemented,” Thackeray told reporters after the Parliament session.
“The way in which a referendum was sought in Britain before its withdrawal from the European Union, a survey is being done here. But seeing people’s response, their (UK) Prime Minister chose to step down. Will something similar happen here?”
Thackeray was apparently referring to the Prime Minister seeking people’s feedback over demonetisation on the Narendra Modi App, where a number of questions have been posed with regard to scrapping of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes.
“One person cannot take a decision for 125 crore people. Before taking the decision to demonetise (the banknotes), people should have been taken into confidence,” he said.
“Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a renowned economist. Thus, his words and opinions should be taken seriously.”
Singh’s comments also divided public opinion, which Prime Minister Modi claimed was largely in favour of demonetisation.
When #ManmohanSingh said history would judge him kindly, who thought history would do it so fast!— Kishor Kunal (@UturnSarkar) November 24, 2016
for the first time i heard voice of #Manmohansingh ..good points he told ..but it would have been better if he spoke something in his period— prasim swaroop (@prasim_swaroop) November 24, 2016
Manmohan Singh is classic case of Good economics.For him Good economics is Sitting on it for 10 years and not doing anything .#Manmohansingh— Rohan Patel (@RohaanKPatel) November 24, 2016