TMC: After nasbandi, Indira lost; after notebandi, BJP will lose
Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien called the BJP's demonetization drive a total disaster. Comparing it with Indira Gandhi's sterilization drive, he claims that Modi's demonetization will cost him his Prime Ministership. Gandhi's drive undertaken for population control had employed a questionable method that made her lose the 1977 elections. O'Brien was reiterating what his party supremo Mamata Banerjee has been saying for months.
Demonetization is announced
On 8th Nov'16, Modi had announced demonetization drive that withdrew Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes from public and declared them invalid. This was done to get rid of the menace of black money, fake currency and terror funding. Exemptions were given for the first 72 hours for emergency services and rules for exchange were provided. In that month itself, the rules changed many times.
99% demonetized returned to RBI, has demonetization failed?
The RBI website announced that roughly 99% of the demonetized Rs. 1000 currency notes had returned into the banking system. By late March 2017, RBI said Rs. 8,925 crore in Rs 1,000 notes were in 'circulation'. This suggests that only 1.3% of the notes were not returned after 8 November. This was taken up by the Opposition to stress that demonetization had failed.
The Opposition launches a severe attack
The Opposition has come up in arms criticizing the Modi government after this data was revealed. Congress's Rahul Gandhi tweeted that this exercise was a "colossal disaster" that "cost innocent lives." He asked the PM "to own up." WB CM Mamata Banerjee questioned whether this data pointed to a bigger scam. CPI(M)'s Sitaram Yechury called demonetization an "anti-national act."
What is the reason for the opposition's critical attack?
After demonetization, people were inconvenienced as they had to line up in banks to exchange new notes. The severe cash crunch affected the livelihood of farmers, vegetable sellers, taxi drivers among others. It also triggered suicides. Modi urged people to endure hardships for exposing the illicit rich. However, as most money is back with the RBI, demonetization failed to achieve its objective as proclaimed.
The Government defends itself albeit feebly
Following RBI's revelation, Arun Jaitley has been defending the demonetization drive albeit feebly. He mentioned that it helped in bringing more people under the tax net, formalized the economy and reduced terror funding. However, these seem to be weak defences considering that so much was invested in the process of ensuring the eradication of black money.