West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday demanded that the Centre withdraw its "draconian decision" to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. She said she was deeply concerned about how the move will affect small traders and farmers, even though she was "strongly against black money". "How will they buy essentials tomorrow?", she said.
The Trinamool Congress chief's reaction was among several issued by political parties and business leaders following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement. The Bharatiya Janata Party praised the move, with party president Amit Shah saying it was "no less than a surgical strike". "It will not only be a problem to those keeping black money but [will] also give a major blow to those indulged in the business of fake currency," he said, according to ANI.
Opposition parties, however, questioned the move's impact on farmers and the poor. Congress spokesperson RS Surjewala said the government was "putting a cumbersome burden" on people by placing a limit on how much money they could withdraw. The introduction of the Rs 2,000 note defeated the purpose of scrapping the Rs 1,000 note, he added, further questioning whether the country's banking system was "ready to tackle such situation[s", ANI reported.
Business leaders also lauded the Centre's decision, with ICICI Bank CEO and Managing Director Chanda Kochhar calling it the "most significant move ever taken to curtail" India's "parallel economy". Former Infosys chief financial officer V Balakrishnan called it a "good initiative", but warned that the period of transition to remove the currency notes from circulation could be a painful one, Business Standard reported. "The first thing they should do to remove all the black money is to have political parties receive donations only in cheques," he said.
Separately, other businesses, including air carrier IndiGo, said they will not accept Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes after November 8.
Starting midnight on November 8, Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes will no longer be no longer be legal tender. Other currency notes – Rs 100, Rs 50, Rs 20 and Rs 10 – are still valid, as are all coins. However, all cashless transactions, such as cheques, cards and demand drafts, will continue as usual.
ATMs across the country will be closed on November 9, and they will not function in parts of the country on November 10, the prime minister said. Banks will remain closed on November 9. New notes of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 will be circulated, Modi said, though these will have limited circulation. They will be introduced on November 10.