Demonetisation ended economic recovery that began in 2013, was a planned conspiracy: Congress
New Delhi, Nov 8 (PTI) The Congress on Wednesday attacked the Narendra Modi government on the seventh anniversary of demonetisation, saying the 'reckless' decision broke the back of the Indian economy and the country will not forgive the prime minister for this 'monumental disaster'.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said demonetisation was the 'biggest assault on India's economy and livelihood', while former party chief Rahul Gandhi said the move was a 'well thought-out conspiracy' to pick pockets of common people and fill the coffers of 'friends' and make them rich.
'Demonetisation was the biggest assault on India's economy and livelihood.
Indians are still nursing the wound of this mindless giant attack. 50 days is what Modi ji wanted...But 7 years down the line, people of India badly battered and bruised on that fateful night of November 8 are still searching for answers,' Kharge said in a post on X.
He also asked why were lakhs of small businesses forced to shut and why were crores of people made to lose their jobs.
'Why was India's growth story allowed to deal with this body blow? Why were the carefully collected savings of our home-makers destroyed? Why were crores of people made to stand in lines, waiting for their own money? Why did 150 people lose their lives for one man's ego? Was 'black money' wiped off? Did terror incidents and Naxal violence stop after 2016? Did fake currency decrease? RBI data tells us that fake notes of Rs 500 denomination increased by 14% last year alone,' he said.
Questioning why Rs 2000 notes were even introduced, he asked why India could not become a 'cashless economy'.
'Hasn't the cash in circulation now soared by a whopping 83 per cent since 2016? Why are 76 people of people who bought property in the last 7 years still paying part in cash,' he asked.
'While PM Modi is busy hobnobbing with his rich 'Dear Friends', India's poor and middle class are suffering,' Kharge alleged.
In a post in Hindi on X, Rahul Gandhi said, 'Demonetisation was a well thought-out conspiracy to destroy employment, to stop the income of workers, to eliminate small businesses, to harm farmers and to break the unorganised economy.' 'Attack on 99 per cent common Indians, benefit to 1 per cent capitalist 'Modi friends'. This was a weapon to pick your pocket - to fill the best friend's bag and make him the second richest person in the world from 609th earlier,' he also alleged.
Congress general secretary communications, Jairam Ramesh said in a statement that demonetisation along with a 'badly designed' GST finished off India's job-generating small and medium businesses, caused a 45-year unemployment high, and ended the economic recovery that had begun in 2013.
He said seven years ago on November 8, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi 'inflicted' demonetisation on an unsuspecting nation.
'A decision that broke the back of the Indian economy and epitomised the unique combination of hubris, inhumanity and economic illiteracy that is the hallmark of the Modi government. A travesty repeated again with the unplanned, sudden lockdown on 24th March, 2020 which led to lakhs of migrant workers walking hundreds and thousands of km back home,' he said.
'Who can forget the prime minister mocking people's suffering, laughing and saying 'ghar mein shadi hai, paisa nahi hai'? Who can forget the hundreds of poor and middle-class people who died waiting in long lines to convert their notes, even as the wealthy managed to exchange their banknotes with ease,' he said.
He said the exercise failed to achieve any of its stated objectives.
'It led to a record concentration of wealth and power, particularly among a handful of large monopolies that have sustained the BJP financially even as the people continue to grapple with joblessness and price rise caused by the same monopolisation,' Ramesh charged.
'In addition to devastating the economy and concentrating wealth in the hands of a few people, the Modi government has 'blood on its hands' for a reckless demonetisation. India will not forgive the prime minister for this monumental disaster,' he said.
The Congress leader claimed that demonetisation led to destruction of the economy and the GDP growth momentum created from 2011 onwards was completely reversed.
India's GDP growth rate increased steadily from 5.2 per cent in 2011 to 8.3 per cent in 2016.
Then, the demonetisation disaster hit, and growth started to slow, all the way to four per cent just before the COVID-19 pandemic, he noted.
Ramesh in a post on X later said that today is the seventh anniversary of the 'Modi-made demonetisation disaster' from which the country is still reeling.
'We need to recall and remind ourselves of what the PM inflicted on the Indian economy and on the daily livelihoods of crores of families,' he asked.
Ramesh said the economic damage of demonetisation is obvious no matter what data one looks at and an IMF report from August 2018 said there was a 'severe and long-lasting' impact on growth, with a “disproportionate impact on the informal sector.” A study from Brown University found that demonetisation led to a large drop in consumption, forcing poorer households to go into debt, he claimed.
The MSME sector, which depends on the cash economy and provides the majority of employment in India, was devastated, he alleged.
Ramesh also said it led to the failure to achieve objectives, saying, 'Demonetisation was a monumental blunder that failed to achieve any of the shifting goalposts that the Modi government had proposed as objectives - whether reducing the spread of black money, ending counterfeiting or making India cashless.' He also claimed that that 99.3 percent of the demonetised notes were returned to the RBI making it a complete and total failure of exposing any black money.
Demonetisation, he charged, was carried out 'with haste, incompetence, and with a total and complete disregard to expert advice from the RBI'.
He also noted that more than 100 people died in queues and stampedes, trying to access their own money. PTI SKC SMN SMN
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