Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi had claimed that demonetisation would kill black money in the country, it seems there is no stopping the menace. This was visible during the now canceled RK Nagar bypoll campaign in Tamil Nadu where parties resorted to all means to bribe the voters. The opposition parties have now asked PM Modi: Whether the money used by politicians to bribe the voters was “white money”? Congress leader P Chidambaram was the first to take a jibe at the PM in this regard. “We were told demonetisation has put an end to black money. Was money distributed in R K NAGAR white money?” Chidambaram tweeted.
The bypoll was scheduled to be held on April 12. However, it was canceled after EC found massive use of money and goods to bribe voters by the political parties. While announcing the demonetisation decision on November 8, PM Modi had said: “To break the grip of corruption and black money, we have decided that the 500 rupee and 1,000 rupee currency notes presently in use will no longer be legal tender from midnight tonight, that is 8th November 2016.”
Justifying the decision, he said, “There comes a time in the history of a country’s development when a need is felt for a strong and decisive step. For years, this country has felt that corruption, black money, and terrorism are festering sores, holding us back in the race towards development.”
We were told demonetisation has put an end to black money. Was money distributed in R K NAGAR white money?
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) April 10, 2017
“Which honest citizen would not be pained by reports of crores worth of currency notes stashed under the beds of government officers? Or by reports of cash found in gunny bags?” Modi added.
Since demonetisation, the Income Tax department and the Enforcement Directorate sleuths have carried out raids across the country and recovered black money worth over hundreds of crores. More shocking seizures have been made in Tamil Nadu, including the recent one in RK Nagar where politicians used around Rs 100 crore to buy votes.
The parties were using not just cash but several innovative forms of inducements. The EC had received many complaints on inducement of voters by distributing cash and gifts in “innovative forms” like tokens, prepaid phone recharge coupons, newspaper subscription, milk tokens, money transfer in no frill accounts in banks and even mobile wallet payment to mobile numbers. Goods, like, sarees, lamps popularly known as “kuthu villaku”, household articles, etc were also distributed.
The police seized several goods including over Rs 5 crore in cash and items such as lamps, t-shirts, silver plates, mobile phones and sarees.
The rampant use of money to buy votes in RK Nagar shows the black money menace can’t be ended easily, unless dealt with iron hands. For now, PM Modi should, however, answer this valid questiom.