The BJP today announced it will mark the first anniversary of demonetisation on November 8 as ‘anti-blackmoney day’, setting up a political tug of war with opposition parties which have planned to observe it as a “black day”. Leading the charge, senior party leader and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley slammed the Congress over its stand against demonetisation, alleging it did not take a single significant step against black money when in power, and listed out a number of measures taken by the Modi government against the menace. Union ministers and BJP office bearers across the country will build public opinion in favour of the government’s decision till November 8 when the party would hold programmes across the country to observe it as anti-blackmoney day, he said at a press conference here. The finance minister also rejected the criticism that note ban decision did not expose black money, saying it came from those who did not understand its objects. Jaitley said that demonetisation has served all three objectives — to squeeze cash economy, promote digital transactions in business and widen the tax base. He pointed out that sale of gold through digital transactions doubled this time on ‘dhanteras’ festival.
“The Congress had adequate opportunity to be in power. I can’t recollect a single significant step they ever took against black money. They had reconciled to India living with a shadow economy. “It is understandable that it would never be on the political agenda of their leadership. I can understand their discomfort. If there is an ideological polarisation over a debate on November 8 over the issue of pro-excess cash economy and anti-black money, then the BJP will definitely take it forward,” Jaitley said.
The BJP’s move comes after around 18 opposition parties, including the Congress and Left, announced that they would observe November 8 as ‘black day’ against demonetisation which they termed as the government’s “most ill-conceived decision”. Jaitley listed out steps, including constitution of an SIT, benami law and reworking of India’s double taxation avoidance agreement with some countries besides demonetisation to argue that the government has been working to curb black money. Lashing out at the Congress over its criticism of the government’s announcement to remonetise banks, he said those who “destroyed” the country are giving a “sermon” today.
He said wryly that the Congress can accuse them of delay in taking steps to correct its incompetence, adding that the banks’ finances suffered due to indiscriminate loans given by them between 2008-12, when the UPA was in power. The government collected resources before it moved yesterday to infuse money into banks, he said. Asked if the BJP’s drive was because of “perceived criticism” of demonetisation among the masses, Jaitley said people are wise and had been voting resoundingly in the party’s favour during elections that have taken place after the decision.