Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday contested Congress leader Manmohan Singh for calling demonetisation an “organised loot”, insisting the exercise was an “ethical drive and a moral step” that made corruption difficult.
The loot is what happened in 2G scam, Commonwealth games and allocation of coal blocks, whereas demonetisation was an economic exercise based on ethical and moral rationales, Jaitley told reporters.
“An anti-black money drive is (an) ethical drive, a moral step. And what is morally and ethically correct has to be politically correct,” the minister said, targeting the former prime minister.
Calling the note ban a “reckless” exercise, Manmohan Singh said during an interactive session with businessmen and traders in Ahmedabad that “demonetisation was an organised loot and legalised plunder”.
Demonetisation and GST roll-out have become major issues in the assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, with the main opposition party maintaining that the two structural reform measures had adversely affected the economy.
The finance minister said while the 10 years of the United Progressive Alliance government were characterised by “policy paralysis”, the Modi dispensation introduced structural reforms to make India a developed nation and give it a cleaner economy.
Jaitley said the Bharatiya Janata Party believes that status quo in economy needed to be shaken up to end corruption.
Taking on the Congress over the issue, Jaitley said the previous Congress governments never took any such big step against black money.
“The Congress’s main aim is to serve the family whereas BJP wants to serve the nation.”
Elaborating on the benefits of demonetisation, the minister said it was aimed at making India a more formal economy with a broader tax base and less cash in the system.
“Less cash in the system may not end corruption but makes corruption difficult,” he said, adding terror funding got “squeezed” post-demonetisation.
Image: In a press conference, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the anti-black money drive was an ethical drive, a moral step. Photograph: Atul Yadav/PTI Photo