Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah on Friday criticised political parties opposing the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. He rejected claims that the move to discontinue the high-value notes was politically motivated and questioned the commitment of opposition leaders to “weed out black money from the economy”, The Indian Express reported.
“Politicians shouldn’t join [the] ranks of black marketers [and] drug dealers who are upset,” Shah said, while urging the public to join the central government’s anti-corruption campaign. “The government made the move to clear black money,” he said, adding that the move was an “economic emergency” for parties like the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party, ahead of Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.
“Demonetisation has dealt a severe blow to Naxalites, terror groups, hawala operators and anti-national elements… Common people and honest taxpayers have no reason to worry,” the BJP president said, according to Firstpost. The government had also made arrangements to distribute cash through post offices to help people who were not yet part of the banking system, he added.
Shah’s remarks came even as the Reserve Bank of India said there was enough cash available with banks to replace the discontinued denominations, ANI reported. The RBI urged the public to be patient and said they could exchange their old notes at any time before December 30. Separately, the Union Home Ministry issued an advisory asking all states to provide security to banks, post offices and agencies managing ATMs and the distribution of cash.
While the move has met with support from the BJP now – which is part of the ruling National Democratic Alliance – the party in 2014 had criticised the Congress-led central government’s decision withdraw all currency notes issued before 2005, saying it would hurt the poor. Party spokesperson and advocate Meenakshi Lekhi had called the Manmohan Singh-led government’s move an attempt to “obfuscate the issue of black money” being held in bank accounts outside India.
The Centre’s decision to demonetise the high-value currency drew severe criticism from several political parties. Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Thursday called the move selfish and questioned its timing. Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said the government’s decision has led to anarchy in the country, ahead of Uttar Pradesh elections. West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee referred to the move as “draconian” and demanded a repeal of the decision.
Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das had said that all denominations of currency, including Rs 1,000 notes, will be reintroduced with new designs and features. The International Monetary Fund, while expressing its support for the move, said the transition to the new currency system needed to be “prudently” executed to ensure minimum inconvenience.