Leaders of opposition parties and civil society members today attacked the Centre over the demonetisation move, terming it as an “astounding” abandonment of reason that will hurt the economy. Addressing a public meeting ‘Does Demonetisation Tackle Black Money?’ here, former Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar also dubbed the measure a “political suicide” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The speakers claimed that the stated objective of combating black money will not be achieved by the “inexplicable” decision of demonetising Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes as they form 86 per cent value of the currency in circulation and over 90 per cent transactions by volume are done in cash.
They also demanded that the government come out with a list of those who have defaulted on banks loans, have money stashed in banks abroad and are named in Panama Papers.
“No (RBI) Governor would have gone ahead with such a decision or would have refused to be part of the decision-making…I have not met Patel yet.
“But from whatever little I know (about Patel), he is an honest and intelligent person. I have differences with (Finance Minister Arun) Jaitley on several issues. But he is an intelligent person…it seems Modiji did not consult either of them,” Aiyar said.
The Congress leader said only a small volume of black money exists in the form of cash and suggested that it is converted into other types of assets or flows in from abroad. He asked the government to hit at the root of the problem by tracking the route from where the money flows in, taking action against those holding black money and ensuring speedy legal recourse against them.
Hitting out at the government, economist Prabhat Patnaik said the decision defies reason at numerous level.
“It is an astounding abandonment of reason,” he said even as he picked holes in the concept of cashless economy in the light of the “fact that only 30 per cent of country’s population has access to banking system”.
CPI National Secretary D Raja, AAP’s Ashish Khetan and Swaraj Abhiyan’s Anupam were among the speakers who also included representatives of bank officials’ association, fishermen, trade union workers and domestic helps.
Raja asked why Modi was not responding to questions posed by the opposition MPs in Parliament on the issue.
“There are reports that 55 persons have died after the demonetisation move was announced. The government claims it was prepared before making the move. These many people would not have died was the government prepared,” Raja alleged.
Khetan reiterated his party’s allegation that demonetisation was the “biggest scam” in independent India.
“We need to raise voice against this scam. We will have to pay a price for this because we will be labeled as anti-national when we raise a voice. But we will fight against this undeclared emergency,” he added.