Demonetisation anniversary: Congress tears into Modi

New Delhi: Ridiculing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “knowledge of economics”, the Congress on Thursday ripped into him for the “reckless” decision of demonetisation that it said wrecked the economy and consumed many lives.

On the second anniversary of the Modi’s 2016 decision to ban Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes, the Congress launched a campaign “Destruction by Demonetisation” highlighting the havoc caused by the move and how it was a complete failure.

The party will also hold a nationwide protest on Friday.

A host of party leaders including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh came out in the stringent criticism of demonetisation.

Calling it an “ill-fated” and “ill-thought” exercise, Singh said the scars and wounds of the decision were only getting more visible with time and its deeper ramifications were still unraveling.

He asked the government not to indulge in any further unorthodox, short-term economic measures that could cause more uncertainty in the economy and financial markets.

Singh said November 8 was a day to remember how economic misadventures can roil the nation for a long time and asked the government to restore certainty and visibility in economic policies.

“Today marks the second anniversary of the ill-fated and ill-thought demonetisation… The havoc that it unleashed on the Indian economy and society is now evident to everyone.

“It is often said that time is a great healer. But unfortunately, in the case of demonetisation, the scars and wounds of demonetisation are only getting more visible with time,” he said in a statement.

Singh said that beyond the steep drop in headline GDP growth numbers after demonetisation, the deeper ramifications of note ban were still unraveling.

“Small and medium businesses that are the cornerstone of India’s economy are yet to recover from the demonetisation shock,” he added.

“Notebandi (note ban) impacted every single person, regardless of age, gender, religion, occupation or creed.”

Addressing the media, former union minister and Congress leader Anand Sharma held Modi solely responsible for the note ban and called it a money laundering scheme that helped the BJP and its industrialist cronies.

“It was an arbitrary and reckless decision that led to economic disaster and misery, deaths of a large number of citizens, loss of millions of jobs and wiping out of small traders and businesses,” said Sharma.

“The PM will never oblige with answer either to the media or Parliament. He is less than literate in economics and less knowledgeable in history. So he makes his own history and his own economics. He thinks he is wiser then (John Maynard) Keynes when it comes to economics because no PM in the world would do what he has done,” he said.

Sharma also said that Modi’s claims that the Indian economy was running on black money tarnished the country’s image globally.

The Congress leader also ridiculed Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who on the day sought to justify demonetisation saying it was aimed at “formalising the economy”.

“The Finance Minister should stay away from defending the decision as he was never consulted before when it was taken. His defences are an insult to the people of the nation who suffered countless miseries.

Never before a finance minister has been reduced to an apologist of an arrogant Prime Minister,” said Sharma dismissing Jaitley’s arguments in support of demonetisation.