A Contentious Anniversary

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The recently observed anniversary of the Demonetization event was controversial. Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had likened demonetization to organized loot.  The event was controversial as it saw BJP and Congress engage in a verbal duel. The showdown saw Congress observing the event as “Black Day” while it was “anti-black money day” for the BJP and the admirers of Modi.

Demonetization has been a contentious issue since the Narendra Modi government decided to make all 500 and 1000 rupee notes illegal tender last year. A more momentous decision affecting the lives of crores of people in the country has never been taken.Hence the recently observed anniversary of the event was bound to be controversial. It saw BJP and Congress engage in a verbal duel. The showdown saw Congress observing the event as “Black Day” while it was “ anti-black money day” for the BJP and the admirers of Modi.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has argued that demonetisation was a flawed decision that caused tremendous hardships to common people and hit India’s economy adversely. It also risked harassment by tax sleuths.  Finance minister Arun Jaitley, on the other hand, described demonetisation as a watershed moment that has helped curb illegal wealth generation. It has also spurred the country’s movement towards a cashless economy.“The fight against corruption and the anti-black money drive is an ethical and moral step taken by the government. We are moving towards a less-cash economy. The number of taxpayers has increased, digital currency increased and terror funding has been squeezed,” said a BJP leader.

The BJP leaders emphasized that BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had from its inception targeted black money by forming a special investigation team (SIT) and coming up with an anti-black money law.

But the Congress was not convinced. “The government says that they will pursue all those who made large deposits in banks after demonetisation. In other words, the taxmen will be unleashed on these individuals. Demonetisation, poor implementation of GST (goods and services tax) and the rise of tax terrorism under the guise of controlling corruption have seriously damaged the investment climate for small businesses,” said a serious Congress leader.

While former Prime Minister, speaking on the issue earlier, had likened demonetization to “organized loot” the BJP hit back saying that the  “loot” had happened during the tenure of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in the allocation of 2G spectrum, the funding of the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the allocation of coal blocks.

The BJP insisted that it differed from the Congress completely in its ethics. It pooh-poohed Congress leaders for serving only the Gandhi family while the BJP served the nation. Jaitley said while there was policy paralysis during the UPA’s tenure structural reforms were initiated during NDA.Demonetization is also likely to cast its shadow on the Gujarat assembly polls. The state being dominated by businessmen the move to scrap high denomination currency suddenly made a big impact on the lives of people. The issue has divided the Gujarati society and the NDA government cannot afford to take things for granted.  “The issue is bound to have a bearing on the polls. It is going to be a close contest,” said a senior Congress leader. Some BJP leaders admit as much but are not willing to go public with their opinions for obvious reasons. .” pp-nov16-30-17

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