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RBI report on demonetisation: How Centre, BJP kept moving the goalposts

RBI report on demonetisation: The Reserve Bank of India has revealed that 98.96 per cent of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes returned to the system.

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Last week in its annual report, the RBI finally made public the details of the junked notes that have come back into the system putting the figure at Rs 15,280 crore. (Reuters)

RBI report on demonetisation: The Reserve Bank of India has revealed that 98.96 per cent of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes returned to the system. Aftermath of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-discussed announcement of scrapping Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes on November 8 last, the central government and the BJP kept shifting the goalposts, according to Indian Express report.

On November 8, the demonetisation decision was termed as ‘mahayagna against corruption, black money, fake notes and terrorism.’ Subsequently, the then Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi informed the Supreme Court that the Government expected to ‘neutralise” “Rs 4-5 lakh crore…used in northeast and Jammu and Kashmir to fuel trouble in India,” according to Indian Express report. Government source, however, termed Rohatgi’s remarks as part of ‘court craft deployed by lawyers to win brownie points.’

On November 27, during monthly radio address ‘Mann Ki Bat’, the first after demonetisation, the Prime Minister encouraged countrymen to take India towards a ‘cashless economy.’ On November 28, three weeks into demonetisation, the RBI disclosed that about Rs 8.45 lakh crore (about 55 per cent) of old currency had come back to the system.

On December 13, RBI’s provisional disclosure showed about Rs 12.44 lakh crore (over 80 per cent of old currency) was back within 35 days of the announcement of demonetisation. “There is no precedent globally to what India has done…The excess of cash was fueling inflation and black-marketing. It was denying the poor, their due,” the Prime Minister said after the end of 50 days of demonetisation on the eve of New Year 2017.

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“It is no credit to any economy that you predominantly deal in cash because cash has a lot of vices… I cannot think of anyone in the world who now propounds the virtues of dealing only in cash,” Arun Jaitley told Rajya Sabha on February 8, the report says.

Meanwhile, BJP made mopst of this demonetisation by projecting it as a battle between “rich and poor” and “honest and dishonest” caught the imagination of many. According to IE reports, several party leaders admitted that it played a pivotal role in BJP’s historic win in Uttar Pradesh.

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