Is there any change in BJP’s policy views against currency exchange since 2014: Delhi MP critic Meenakshi Lekhi’s video

NewDelhi,Nov12:The last time the centre decided to scrap currency notes to crack down on black or untaxed money, a BJP opposition spokesperson had called it a “strongly anti-poor” move.

It was January 2014. The Congress-led UPA government had announced that all currency notes issued before 2005 would be withdrawn by March 31 that year and must be exchanged for new notes with more safety features. The BJP’sDelhi  MP and spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi had torn into the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

“The latest gimmick of finance ministry to demonetise the notes before 2005 is an attempt to obfuscate the issue of black money stashed outside the country… This measure is strongly anti-poor,” Ms Lekhi had then said.

She had accused Mr Chidambaram of formulating a scheme that would hit “the ‘aam aurats’ and the ‘aadmis’ – those who are illiterate and have no access to banking facilities.”

65 per cent of India’s population did not have bank accounts, she had noted, pointing out that such people stored money in cash and would be go through extreme trouble to exchange the old money.

“People who have small savings, no bank accounts – their live savings will be targeted. This present scheme does nothing to remove black money from circulation,” Ms Lekhi had said.

BJP had condemned this move calling it a detraction from the larger issue of black money.

Today, three days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a shock announcement in a televised speech that 500 and 1000 rupee notes were being abolished, and as millions of Indians had to wait in long queues outside banks to exchange the notes now illegal

This time the criticizing BJP MLA ,did not field Meenakshi Lekhi but her boss in the BJP, party chief Amit Shah, to defend the move.

Opposition parties who were criticizing the decision, Mr Shah said, were supporting black marketers. “I can understand the pain of those keeping black money, fake currency, terrorists, hawala operators, naxalites and drug dealers with this decision.

While PM Modi’s decision to take out the big notes from circulation has been praised by many as a strong step against black or untaxed money, several opposition politicians have criticized the government alleging that the move has caused hardship to the poor.

The Congress’ Rahul Gandhi stood in queue at a Delhi bank today to exchange money and said “there are no crorepatis in this queue… the government will never understand what these people are suffering.”

Uddhav Thackeray of BJP ally Shiv Sena called the move “disastrous” for causing much inconvenience to the “common masses.”

Excerpts from Meenakshi Lekhi statement:

“The present government is not in a position to measure the correct quantum of black money because those who have the black money will actually convert into new currency notes. Now the sufferers are the aam aurats(women) and aadmis(men). Those who are illiterates, who have no access to the banking facilities. And they will be ones, who will affected by such diversionary measures. People who have no bank accounts, their life savings will be targetted.”

“They will fall victim to middlemen who will scare them that the notes are worthless and charge them hefty fees to convert them. They will also be ripped off by shopkeepers.”

“This policy of Mr. P Chidambaram is only meant for the blue blood and not for the sweating, red-blooded, toiling millions. It is not going to affect those who have numbered accounts in Swiss accounts, but will hit those who do not have any bank account even in India,” she had said.

Lekhi’s statement stands out in light of how BJP leaders strongly opposed the demonetization.

Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma also questioned BJP chief Amit Shah for doing propaganda on the move as his party had opposed it in 2014 when in opposition.

“Is this hypocrisy? When UPA was in power, BJP opposed organized withdrawal of currency. Has Shri Amit Shah forgotten his own parties words?,” he asked the BJP chief whose party raised strong objections to the move to demonetise currency during UPA.

“Does the BJP have courage in its convictions to comment on their statement from two years ago? Or did they support Black Money then?,” he asked, releasing a copy of BJP’s press statement of February 2014.