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Opposition parties slam Centre over demonetisation after RBI report

Chidambaram questions the Narendra Modi government whether its demonetisation decision was designed to convert black money into white.

india Updated: Aug 31, 2017 00:07 IST
Indo Asian News Service, Kolkata/New Delhi
Demonetisation.,Black money,Narendra Modi
Peopl wait outside the RBI building in New Delhi to submit their demonetised notes on March 31.(Ravi Choudhary/HT file)

The Opposition launched an attack on the BJP-led NDA government after a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) report revealed on Wednesday that almost 99% of ₹1,000 and ₹500 notes that were banned after demonetisation had returned to the banking system.

“99% notes legally exchanged! Was demonetisation a scheme designed to convert black money into white?” asked former finance minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram.

In a series of tweets, he said, “Rs 16000 cr out of demonetised notes of Rs 1544,000 cr did not come back to RBI. That is 1%. Shame on RBI which ‘recommended’ demonetisation. RBI ‘gained’ Rs 16000 crore, but ‘lost’ Rs 21000 crore in printing new notes! The economists deserve Nobel Prize.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in a surprise move banned ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes on November 8 last year in an attempt to weed out black money.

His predecessor Manmohan Singh had termed the drive a “monumental mismanagement and a case of organised loot and legalised plunder”.

The Opposition had made the ‘hardships’ faced by people post note ban one of its key planks in the February-March assembly elections. However, the strategy failed to hamper BJP’s prospects as it registered decisive wins in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and also went on to form the governments in Goa and Manipur.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley had told the Parliament earlier this month that note ban had squeezed terror funding in the Valley and Chhattisgarh.

Jaitley said the number of stone-pelters in Kashmir had gone down post-demonetisation. “In 2008, 2010 and 2016 after Burhan Wani’s killing, we saw thousands of stone pelters on streets. In last few months, there have not been more than 25-50 or 100 stone pelters,” he had said.

But the Opposition targeted Jaitley’s claims after the RBI report came out . “Boasts of black money, terror & counterfeit currency ending, have all fallen flat,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.

“Despite RBI’s delays truth is out. 99.9% of the notes back in the banking system. 100s died in queues. The poor suffered the most. All this for what? Lives & livelihoods lost... India can never forgive Modi govt for this anti-national act,” he tweeted.

The Samajwadi Party demanded an apology from the Prime Minister and the finance minister for “playing a cruel joke” on the people. “Hundreds of people died in queues. It demonstrated the failure of our primary institution. One cannot push the economy down for their political goals,” said SP’s Ghanshyam Tiwari.

First Published: Aug 30, 2017 22:10 IST