Congress dubs demonetisation ‘biggest scam’, Jaitley says look who’s talking (Roundup)

New Delhi, Dec 13 (IANS) The Congress on Tuesday stepped up its attack on the government over demonetisation, dubbing the move as the “biggest scam”. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the stand on the anti-graft measure taken by the opposition party with a “scandalous record” was not surprising.

The Congress launched a coordinated attack — with party leaders Rahul Gandhi in Uttar Pradesh and P. Chidambaram in Nagpur — against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to scrap high value currency notes.

Gandhi, addressing traders and commoners in Dadri in Uttar Pradesh near Delhi, said the real motive behind the demonetisation exercise was to enable the banks collect enough money so they could waive off the loans given to the big corporates and industrialists.

“The motive is to flush the banks with your money. These banks have given out loans to the tune of Rs 8 lakh crore to corporates and industrialists,” the Congress Vice President said.

Gandhi accused Modi of behaving “like kings who just want to speak and our Prime Minister also just wants to keep speaking”.

He said the Prime Minister had misled the nation by claiming that the economic crisis triggered by the spiking of 500- and 1,000-rupee notes would be over in 50 days. “India will suffer because of this for several years.”

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters in Nagpur that the demonetisation was the “biggest scam of the year” and demanded a probe into how some people were getting loads of cash in new denomination of Rs 2,000 when the poor were scrambling for cash in serpentine queues outside banks and ATMs.

“I can’t get a Rs 2,000 note, yet crores in Rs 2,000 notes found their way to individuals being raided all over the country,” Chidambaram said.

He said the demonetisation was “thoughtless move” and the government was trivialising “a major blow to India’s economy”.

“Forty-five crore people are dependent on daily wages for survival… They have been affected by demonetisation. Who is going to compensate them,” Chidambaram asked.

He also castigated the government over its plans to transform India into a cashless economy. “It is like motherhood and apple pie. No one speaks against them, similarly no one will speak against cashless society. To assume that India will go from 3 per cent to 100 per cent cashless in a matter of few months is an outlandish expectation.”

Jaitley shot back, saying the Congress’ tenures of government between 2004 and 2014 were mired in corruption and graft.

“From 2G scandal to coal block, AgustaWestland helicopter deal, each of the scandals, which is even today discussed in public space, belongs to that period. Given this scandalous record, it is not surprising that the Congress is extremely uncomfortable with the anti-corruption campaign our government has launched,” Jaitley said.

The Finance Minister said the government is “rapidly completing remonetisation exercise”.

“Everyday RBI is injecting a large amount of currency into the banking system. Significant amounts are going to be injected in next three weeks which are gradually bringing the pressure down.”

Citing the advantages of the move, Jaitley said the money operating as loose cash in the system had come into the banking system, and as future transactions would be substantially digital and would come in the tax net, it would ultimately help the government to make taxes “more reasonable”.

“When this is seen along with many other reforms the government is bringing about, particularly the proposed GST, the restrictions on cash spending subjected to PAN declaration, in itself is going to bring down the levels of corruption in society,” he said.

“It is going to bring down cash transaction in society and it’s going to bring down levels of evasion as far as taxation is concerned,” he added.

–IANS

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