Modi’s demonetisation could end up as ‘joke’: Chinese media

Beijing: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “masterstroke” to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes could be reduced to a “nasty partisan conspiracy” or a “costly political joke” if it fails to deliver on its high-sounding promises, Chinese official media commented today.

“While it takes political courage to launch such a trailblazing and massive campaign; it actually takes far more wisdom to give it a happy ending,” an article in the state-run Global Times said.

“Given the fact that people have to pay an absurdly high price for the expected reform, if BJP fails to deliver its high-sounding rhetoric and promises, then Modi’s much-lauded ‘masterstroke’ or ‘big bang reform’ will likely be reduced to ‘nasty partisan conspiracy’ and even a ‘costly political joke’,” it said.

The article noted that demonetisation is by no means new to India. However, rooting out India’s perennial and enormous black economy has never been an easy mission, it said.

“If Modi fails to supplement the blitzkrieg reform with more enduring and fundamental measures, any beneficial effects the reform has created may evaporate quickly, even if Indian people have paid an absurdly high social and economic price so far,” the article said.

The demonetisation may also benefit BJP, it said.

“Modi’s move also carries an implicit albeit thick partisan agenda: Sudden demonetisation may hurt other political parties’ funding more than his own Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), rendering the BJP a significant upper hand in the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab,” it alleged.

“In the electorally pivotal states of UP and Punjab, BJP’s primary rivalries are often local and smaller parties which have less diversified funding and depend heavily on small cash donations,” it noted.

“So, even if BJP suffers blowback from the clampdown, it is likely to end up less affected, thanks to its national network as well as the numerous ‘family member’ organisations affiliated to it,” the article asserted.

The article stated that Modi’s “heroic image” embodied in the anti-black money campaign is also something BJP can bank on, especially as the party seemingly “lacks a strong chief ministerial face” in UP now.

“While Modi may find pacifying chaos in the short-term and correcting structural distortion in the long-term (they) are both hard policy goals, the partisan politics appears to be the only low-hanging fruit he can readily pluck,” it said.

In the last decade, undocumented sources like cash donations accounted for around 75 per cent of the funding for India’s political parties, it added.

“Given this, the sudden clampdown on black money may also be seen as Modi’s clever electioneering for the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab,” it claimed.