As Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to demonetise Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes is apparently backfiring in the poll-bound Punjab a month after the surprise decision, it seems advantage Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress.
Other than the inconvenience for the common man, which has only multiplied since the beginning of this month with no end to the serpentine queues outside banks and ATMs, the small merchants, arhtiyas (commission agents) and shopkeepers are beginning to feel the pinch of the slowdown caused by demonetisation.
State Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh has already dared Union finance minister Arun Jaitley to contest Amritsar Lok Sabha byelections, calling it a “referendum” on demonetisation, which he termed as a “dictatorial move.”
“It’s a Rs 8 lakh crore scam to bail out Modi’s rich friends and killed 84 common men and women till date.”
Also, the core votebank of the BJP, the business community, is on the brink of losing patience, with the Prime Minister’s “anti-corruption revolution”. The move might cost the party the urban voter edge it had over the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), complementing the Akali hold in rural areas.
BJP MUM, SAD MURMURS COME OUT IN OPEN
The Punjab BJP is obviously quiet, but the underlying murmurs against the move within the Akalis came to the fore this weekend when state rural development minister Sikander Singh Maluka said the idea was good, but its implementation is faulty. “The decision to pull out Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes to check black money is a good move, but the poor implementation has left the residents harassed,” he said during a function in SAS Nagar on Saturday.
“The decision... to check black money is a good move, but the poor implementation has left the residents harassed.”
Though both the Congress and AAP have been criticising the government over the move, the AAP has the first mover’s advantage in cashing in on the anti-BJP sentiment.
The AAP already has a strong presence in Malwa mandis – the small town trading spots — and have held large successful rallies in and around these mandis for the past six months. AAP MP Bhagwant Mann first held a series of two dozen rallies in these mandis followed by another dozen rallies addressed by party supremo and Delhi chief ministern Arvind Kejriwal last month.
KEJRIWAL’S FOCUS ON NOTE BAN
Kejriwal’s Saturday rally in Balachaur dana mandi on Saturday evening too primarily focused on “notebandi” (note ban). Beginning with his repetitive gripe that the Akalis and Congress were hand in glove, he continued to lash out on Modi for a large part of his speech, alleging a Rs 8 lakh crore scam that had bailed out Modi’s rich friends and “killed” 84 common men and women till date. At his Adampur rally earlier in the day, he had touched on the issue.
“We have been against the PM’s decision from day one. The whole thing has led to the aam aadmi (common man) queuing up outside banks and people losing business and jobs. The situation has worsened after December 1 because salaries are blocked,” said Mann.
“We don’t want to politicise the issue. Kejriwal ji is addressing rallies on demonetisation across the country,” added AAP leader and Delhi MLA Jarnail Singh.