Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Monday said the minutes of the Reserve Bank of India’s board meeting on November 8, 2016, exposes the “incompetence of the government that announced demonetisation”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on November 8, 2016, announced that banknotes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 would cease to be legal tender.
Chidambaram was referring to a Right to Information document that reportedly indicates that the the Reserve Bank of India rejected two key justifications of demonetisation from the Centre – curbing black money and counterfeit notes – while giving its approval to the decision hours before it was announced.
The former finance minister said demonetisation destroyed the lives of millions and that Indians would deliver their verdict soon in a reference to the Lok Sabha polls. “Despite the warning from the RBI that none of the reasons for demonetisation were justified, the government went ahead and destroyed the livelihood of millions of people,” Chidambaram tweeted. “The authors of demonetisation are still sitting pretty on their thrones.”
The Congress leader’s statement comes a day after the Election Commission announced that the 17th Lok Sabha elections will take place in seven phases between April 11 and May 19.
Chidambaram said Urjit Patel, “the poor Governor of RBI [at the time] paid the price for capitulation and resigned”.
In November 2018, The Indian Express had reported about the RBI board’s stance on the government’s proposal. The article too quoted from the minutes of the board’s meeting that had described demonetisation as “commendable” but warned that it “will have a short-term negative effect on the GDP for the current year”.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, during an interaction with reporters on Monday, said that the party had sourced the minutes from an activist whose RTI application was replied to 26 months later. “Now it is clear that Mr Modi’s government is in the departure lounge,” Ramesh said. “People in the bureaucracy also getting courageous. This RTI request was agreed after 26 months and it shows what a disastrous decision ‘demonetisation’ was! It was a ‘Tughlaki’ decision.”