Congress leader and former Union minister P Chidambaram on Saturday said he would have submitted his resignation if he had been the finance minister in the Narendra Modi government when it took the decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. Speaking at the Kolkata Literature Festival, Chidambaram said his “real quarrel with demonetisation” was the fact that a decision of such magnitude could not been taken by one person, The Indian Express reported.
Chidambaram alleged that none of the “three most finance officials” in the country were consulted on demonetisation. “Or if they were consulted they disagreed, and if they disagreed they were too timid to put in their resignations.” He also alleged that former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan was “removed” from his position because he had opposed demonetisation. “I suspect the government was in a hurry to implement it [demonetisation]...they implemented it within 64 days of Urjit Patel’s joining.”
Separately, former Union minister Arun Shourie asked how demonetisation would help tackle the problem of black money. At the Hyderabad Literary Festival, Shourie said that people with large amounts of unaccounted income had kept it outside the country, PTI reported. “They buy companies, they buy estates,” he said. “An idea does not become valid just because the people have voted for it....they don’t know whether it is actually against black money or it actually generates more black money.”
Shourie accused the Centre of not concentrating on reviving private investment and reforming tax rates to stimulate economic growth. “This was the principal task for this government. For that, they had to work on the banks and they had to work on the tax administration even more than on tax rates.”
Right to Information queries filed by journalists and activists had revealed that the central bank had recommended the note ban on November 8, the same day Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision in an address to the nation. The move has been heavily criticised by Opposition politicians and economists. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Saturday compared it to an unguided missile.