Hyderabad (Telangana) [India]: Deriding the Central Government and its decision of demonetising the high-end currency notes in November, former finance minister and senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Sunday said the government might have consulted some ‘RSS prachaarak’ instead of taking suggestion from a finance expert.
Making a subtle jibe at the Centre, Chidambaram also said the move from demonetisation to ‘remonetisation’ was not ‘notebandi’ but ‘notebadli’.
“This is a decision taken without consulting those who should have been consulted. The Finance Secretary was not consulted; the Banking Secretary was not consulted. The Chief Economic Advisor was not consulted. They must have consulted some RSS praacharak instead,” he said.
Continuing his tirade, Chidambaram added, “No major country in the world has demonetised their currency in the last 50 years. And if we have to cite examples, we have the most distinguished examples of Zimbabwe, Libya and North Korea. This government might have thought that these are the most prosperous countries of the world.”
“It’s a shame. It’ll be recorded in the history books that along with Zimbabwe, Libya and North Korea, India demonetised its currency,” he added.
Hitting out at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Urjit Patel, Chidambaram said no governor for the past 27 years agreed to the process of demonetisation, while Patel, within 64 days of his tenure, agreed to the move.
“There have been so many RBI governors who have been averse to demonetisaiton, they have advised against demonetisation. Were all these governors fools?” he said.
Chidambaram also questioned the Centre over its knowledge of the capacity of printing presses available at the RBI.
“They demonetised 2,400 crore notes. They did not even pause to think what the printing capacity of the four printing presses is,” he said.
“The printing capacity of these presses if they work 24 hours is Rs. 300 crore. Simple arithmetic says 2,400 divided by 300 gives 8 months,” he added.
Chidambaram also ridiculed the Centre’s notion of a ‘cashless’ India.
“There are more than 7,00,000 villages in India and the Point of Sale (PoS) machines are only 1,40,000 in number. And they say ‘go cashless’. 80 percent of transactions in Germany are in cash, Australia 60 percent, Canada 56 percent and USA 46 percent. And the Prime Minister says India will go 100 percent cashless,” he said.
The former Finance Minister also wondered about the Centre’s claims of defeating corruption with demonetisation and said if a person can take bribe in Rs. 1000 notes, he can indulge in the trade of Rs. 2000 notes as well.
“They said this is to put an end to corruption. I looked at the note. Is it written anywhere ‘not valid for bribe giving’? A person who took bribes in Rs. 1,000 notes will take bribe in Rs. 2,000 notes,” he said.
Further talking about the ill-effects of demonetisation on small businesses and farmers, Chidambaram, well-armed with facts, said it was the farmers who were affected the most.
“Thousands of farmers have been affected. Between November 7 and November 9, every commodity’s price crashed. So many cases of misery, so many crores lost, and the government still does not utter a word about giving them any kind of compensation,” he said.
“I did a calculation. If you take 500 people outside a bank branch and 500 outside an ATM, everyday 11 crore people were standing in queues. And for what? To take out your own money,” he added.
Acknowledging that the Congress did commit some mistakes, Chidambaram defended saying that they had a clear vision and core principles.
“The Congress might have committed mistakes. But we had a clear vision of where we were heading to. The Congress has core principles – we must be secular, should give proper space to the private sector. If the government intervenes, it must do so always to protect the poor. The rich can take care of themselves,” he said.
Chidambaram further accused the Centre of trying to deceive the people with ‘chunaavi jumlas’.
“These days such promises are known as chunaavi jumlas. If you make a promise, you should fulfil the promise. Think twice before you make a promise. You cannot act first and think later. You should think first and act later,” he said.
This is not the first time when Chidambaram has attacked the Central Government over the demonetisation drive. Earlier too, the former finance minister said the RBI surrendered to the Modi-led government and compromised its autonomy and independence.
He also termed demonetisation as ‘pre-scripted’.
He has also said that had he been the finance minister, he would have resigned from the post if the Prime Minister insisted on demonetisation. (ANI)