Congress President Sonia Gandhi termed demonetisation the ‘single most appropriate metaphor for the ill-conceived governance model’ of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In a statement on the third anniversary of the notes ban, Gandhi said it was a ‘preposterous measure fuelled by false propaganda’, which did untold damage to innocent and trusting people of the country.
“Today is the third anniversary of ‘Tughlaki blunder of demonetisation’, inflicted by a tyrannical government hell bent upon attacking livelihoods and lives of its own people,” the statement said.
On November 8, 2016, the Narendra-Modi-led NDA government in 2016 invalidated Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, taking off circulation 86% of all cash at the time.
Three years since the announcement, the notes ban has not served any purpose, the Congress president added. “The BJP government even told the Supreme Court that Rs 300,000 crore of black money will be purged as it would not return into the system. Subsequently, the Prime Minister added the objective of abolition of cash currency usage and to replace it with a digital economy. Three years later, Prime Minister Modi has failed spectacularly on all these counts,” she said.
The Congress chief claimed that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had confirmed that 99.3% of all the devalued Rs 500 and Rs1000 currency notes have been re-deposited with zero windfall. “Fake notes turned out to be a miniscule and negligible percentage of the notes in circulation (again, as per the RBI). Terror and naxalite activities have actually seen an increase after demonetisation as per the government’s own published data. The currency in circulation has actually seen a 22% increase over pre-demonetisation level (as per Finance Minister in Parliament).”
She also asked the government to specify the achievements of note ban.
“What did demonetisation achieve? What it did instead, was to wipe out over one crore jobs from the economy (and still counting), take the unemployment rate to a 45 year high, shaved two full percentage points off GDP growth and ensured that India’s international rating moved from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’. It is now widely acknowledged as a Herculean blunder by independent economists and taught, across the world, as a cautionary tale of ‘what governments should not do’.”
Despite all the empty rhetoric about holding himself accountable, Gandhi said the Prime Minister and his colleagues never once took responsibility for – or even acknowledged – this “faux pas that claimed over a hundred and twenty lives (by a conservative estimate), proved a death knell for India’s medium & small businesses, snatched the livelihoods of India’s farmers and reduced millions of families to the very margins of poverty.”
She said no matter how much the Modi government may try and “evade responsibility for this ludicrous and short-sighted” measure, the nation and its people will ensure that they are held accountable. “The Prime Minister and his colleagues have stopped speaking about demonetization… hoping that the nation will forget. Unfortunately for them, the Congress will ensure that neither the nation nor history, forgives or forgets it,” Gandhi cautioned.