Opposition leaders on Saturday attacked the government over the withdrawal of Rs 2000 currency notes from circulation with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee describing it as “Tughlaqi demonetisation drama” and Congress wondering if this was the second “notebandi” exercise.
The BJP rejected this was any sort of demonetisation and instead reminded the Congress that even during the rule of Manmohan Singh, old currency notes were taken off circulation.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday made the surprise announcement but gave the public time till September 30 to either deposit Rs 2000 notes in accounts or exchange them at banks.
It said it had asked banks to stop issuing Rs 2000 notes with immediate effect.
Banerjee said this move would “hit common people hard once again”.
In a tweet, she said, “Another whimsical and Tughlaqi demonetisation drama of Rs 2,000 notes will hit the common people hard once again by subjecting them to massive harassment. These imperious measures are meant to camouflage the fundamentally anti-people & crony capitalist nature of this regime.
“Such misadventure by an oligarchic & authoritarian government will not be forgotten by the people at large at the time of reckoning.” Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge called for an impartial probe into the entire episode.
In a tweet in Hindi, he said, “You inflicted a deep wound on the economy with the first demonetisation. Due to this, the entire unorganised sector was destroyed, MSMEs were closed down and crores of jobs were lost.
“Now, the ‘second demonetisation’ of ₹2000 note… Is this a cover-up of a wrong decision? Only an unbiased investigation will reveal the truth of the matter.” At a press conference in Patna, senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad when asked about the move said, “The RBI has put out a detailed communication clearly explaining how the use of these high denomination notes was dwindling. We would like to remind our Congress friends that even during the rule of Manmohan Singh, old currency notes used to be taken off circulation. Hence they (Congress) must not call it notebandi.” He added, “If these notes were in use for laundering money, scrapping these will hit such networks.” On the issue, Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan hit back at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal after the latter took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the RBI’s decision.
Kejriwal had tweeted that it was first said Rs 2000 notes will end corruption and now it is being said that withdrawing them will end corruption.
“That is why I say that we should have an educated prime minister,” he said.
Responding to this, Pradhan said Rs 2,000 notes remain legal tender and added that the “educated chief minister is again out to sell lies”.
While congratulating Siddaramaiah on becoming Karnataka chief minister, Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai took a jibe at him, asking, “Where does the Congress government have funds to implement its five poll assurances, which require about Rs 65,000 crore per year? Rs 2,000 currency notes can’t be bundled in bags anymore as they would be withdrawn by this September.” Independent Rajya Sabha member Kapil Sibal also attacked the government over the decision and recalled Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks at the time of the 2016 demonetisation that the magnitude of cash in circulation is directly linked to the level of corruption.
He said, “₹2000 notes scrapped. PM to Nation: November 8, 2016, ‘The magnitude of cash in circulation is directly linked to the level of corruption’. Cash in circulation: 2016 (17.7 lakh crores); 2022 (30.18 lakh crores). So: Corruption increased! What say you PM ji?” Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra said “No civilised nation puts its people under constant fear of cash turning to toilet paper. Why should we stress about our wallets vaporising every few years?” “BJP & Modiji’s distractions cut no ice. You lost Karnataka. You will lose more states. Also you cannot save Adani,” she said.
Reacting to the development, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi posed five questions to Modi.
“Five questions to Top Economist PM Modi:@PMOIndia. 1. Why did you introduce the 2000 note in the first place? 2. Can we expect 500 note to be withdrawn soon? 3. 70 crore Indians don’t have a smart phone, how do they do digital payment? “4. What is the role of Bill Gates owned Better Than Cash Alliance in making you do Demo 1.0 and 2.0? 5. Is NPCI being hacked by Chinese hackers? If so, what will happen to payments when war happens,” he asked.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin claimed the move is a ploy to hide the BJP’s electoral debacle.
On his Twitter handle, Stalin wrote: “500 suspicions, 1000 mysteries, 2,000 mistakes ! A single trick to conceal the electoral fiasco in Karnataka #2000Note #Demonetisation.” Shiv Sena (UBT) leaders Sanjay Raut and Aaditya Thackeray, Bharat Rashtra Samithi spokesperson Sravan Dasoju also questioned the move.
Slamming the decision, Congress general secretary organisation K C Venugopal said, “I recollect the prescient words of our former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh, who called demonetisation an act of ‘organised loot and legalised plunder’ and its implementation was a ‘monumental management failure’.” Congress’ media and publicity department head Pawan Khera took a swipe at Modi, saying the one who could not use the note printed by himself even for seven years asks what the country did in 70 years.
Congress MP Manish Tewari said the RBI’s logic behind the withdrawal of Rs 2,000 rupee notes was contrary to the answer given by the Finance Ministry to his Parliament Question on November 18, 2019.
The Rs 2,000 denomination banknote was introduced in November 2016, primarily to meet the currency requirement of the economy in an expeditious manner after the withdrawal of legal tender status of all Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes in circulation at that time.
The RBI said it has also been observed that Rs 2,000 denomination note is not commonly used for transactions. Further, the stock of banknotes in other denominations continues to be adequate to meet the currency requirement of the public.
“In view of the above, and in pursuance of the ‘Clean Note Policy’ of the Reserve Bank of India, it has been decided to withdraw the Rs 2,000 denomination bank notes from circulation,” it said.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)