The Opposition on Thursday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying his note ban decision was “reckless” and dubbed demonetisation as the country’s “biggest scam” and a “money laundering exercise”.
The Congress said the prime minister should apologise for demonetisation as it had inflicted “misery” on the people and dealt a “body blow” to the economy.
Congress senior spokesperson Anand Sharma said none of the measures that Modi had promised with the ban on high-value currency notes, put into effect in November last year, had been realised.
“Demonetisation is the biggest scam, as the government has helped the wrong people legitimise their illegitimate money through it and has betrayed the poor people of the country with false promises,” Anand Sharma said.
He also said in the last six quarters under Modi, the GDP growth sank from 9.2 per cent to 5.7 per cent.
“The GDP numbers released for the (April-June) quarter confirms that the reckless decision of the prime minister on demonetisation and the policy defaults have led to a major crash in the Indian economy,” Sharma said.
Sharma stressed it was the prime minister’s “direct responsibility” as it was his personal decision to implement note ban.
“The PM owes an explanation. He has to accept moral responsibility. He must apologise to the country and we will continue to force accountability on this issue,” he said.
Sharma alleged demonetisation had led to a GDP loss of Rs 2.25 lakh crore.
He said Modi had promised to unearth black money and end corruption, terror funding and counterfeit currency.
None of the promises made by him while announcing the decision had come true, he said.
Congress in-charge of communications Randeep Surjewala drew a parallel of Modi with 14th-century monarch Muhammad bin Tughlaq for his decision to demonetise and demanded his resignation for “misleading” the people of the country.
“PM Modiji will go down in history alongside Mohammad-Bin-Tuglaq for demonetisation scam. If morality has a place, he should consider to quit,” Surjewala said on Twitter.
He also said that Modi made a disaster of demonetisation due to which India’s economy was wrecked and asked what gains did note ban bring to the country.
“Will PM Modi introspect and apologise to the nation? If morality has any foundation, will he now step aside for lying to the nation and misleading the nation?” Surjewala asked.
“GDP growth slows from over 8 pc to 5.7 pc yet those living in glass houses of demonetisation disaster remain oblivious in their ivory towers.
“In last 6 quarters, the economy under Modiji sank from 9.2 pc to 5.7 pc! This is by new method of calculation! Is this demonetisation success formula?” Surjewala asked.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist termed demonetisation as a “money laundering exercise that helped convert black money into white” at the expense of people and asked prime minister to come clean on it and fix accountability as the move “failed” to achieve its objectives.
“Was this entire exercise done to protect the corporates who are refusing to return the loans they had taken from our nationalised banks? Was this done to prevent the banks from collapsing as a consequence of these loans?” CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury asked.
The Aam Aadmi Party said demonetisation broke the backbone of the country’s economy and lashed out at the Reserve Bank of India for “lying” to the nation about the total amount of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in circulation before the drive.
AAP leader Sanjay Singh said, “We have been saying since day one that demonetisation is one of the biggest scams in independent India which has broken the backbone of the country’s economy. The prime minister should apologise to the nation.”
Another Left party, the CPI, stated that RBI’s annual report for 2016-17, released yesterday, raises several questions, given there is no information on quantum of black money unearthed due to demonetisation, and also attributed the falling GDP to the note-ban.
CPI’s national secretary D Raja echoed Yechury’s views on the issue. He claimed neither the prime minister nor the finance minister and the RBI Governor have answers to what happened to achieving the objectives of demonetisation.
The opposition attack came after the Reserve Bank said in its annual report on Wednesday that banks had received Rs 15.28 lakh crore or 99 per cent of the invalidated currency.