The Congress on Friday held protests across the country against the Centre’s decision to demonetise currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 two years ago. Thursday marked the second anniversary of demonetisation.
Congress leaders Ashok Gehlot, Anand Sharma, Mukul Wasnik, Sushmita Dev and Bhupinder Singh Hooda were among those who courted arrest on Friday as they protested outside the Reserve Bank of India’s headquarters in New Delhi, The Indian Express reported. An unidentified police officer said around 70-80 Congress protesters were detained, according to PTI.
Jammu and Kashmir Congress Secretary Sudhir Sharma led about 300 protesters in Jammu, PTI reported. They also courted arrest after two hours of demonstrations and were taken to the police lines in Gandhi Nagar.
Youth Congress national spokesperson Amrish Ranjan Pandey said the protests were organised to “highlight the miseries of the nation since the last two years under the Modi regime”. “It is a protest against the failed demonetisation of the Modi government wherein common people suffered its grave consequences,” he said.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala claimed the move was “a scam to convert black money into white”.
“Congress workers will be out on the streets in order to protest against the complete demolition of the Indian economy unleashed by this ‘Tughlaki farman’ two years ago,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari had said on Tuesday, in reference to a medieval king infamous for his misguided decisions.
The protests are taking place a day after the second anniversary of the note ban. Calling the decision “ill-fated and ill-thought”, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said November 8 was when Indians need to remember that “economic policymaking should be handled with thought and care”. He also urged the government not to resort to any more “unorthodox, short-term” economic measures that could lead to uncertainty in the economy and financial markets.
While former Finance Minister P Chidambaram described demonetisation as an “ingeniously designed official money laundering scheme”, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the move was a “disaster” for the country.
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Friday demanded an apology from the BJP. “After two years of demonetisation, any of the objectives as claimed by the BJP were not met. The BJP should offer an apology for the move,” she said. “The BJP government at the Centre will be remembered as a government of failures in which none of the promises made to the people were fulfilled.”
While demonetisation aggravated the problems of the poor, “it helped the BJP men make their black money white by depositing them in banks”, Mayawati claimed.
However, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government has claimed that demonetisation led to an increase in tax compliance and prompted action against corruption and black money. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said demonetisation was “one of the key steps in a chain of important decisions” taken by the government to formalise the economy and that confiscating currency was not one of the key objectives of the exercise.
On Thursday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi alleged that demonetisation was a “shrewd scheme” to convert the black money of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “suit-booted friends” into legal wealth. He said November 8 would go down in the history of India “as a day of infamy” and the day when Modi “unleashed the tyranny of demonetisation” on the country.
The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday accused Gandhi of lying. The party’s spokesperson Sambit Patra claimed the Narendra Modi-led government was trying to curb black money while the Congress and Gandhi were trying to save it, PTI reported. Demonetisation destroyed the “ill-gotten wealth of four generations of the Gandhi family”, Patra alleged.
At a rally in Chhattisgarh on Friday, the Congress president said rich people in big cars did not stand in queues to deposit demonetised notes. In response, Patra claimed Gandhi himself had stood outside banks during demonetisation.