Despite government claim of secrecy, scribe broke story a fortnight back

Lucknow, Nov 11 (IANS) Though the Centre has claimed that the decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes was known only to a handful of people, the story was broken by a Kanpur-based Hindi journalist almost a fortnight before the dramatic late evening announcement by the Prime Minister.

Brajesh Dubey of the Hindi daily Dainik Jagran is gleefully accepting congratulatory telephone calls and envious looks from his peers for his story of October 27 that also confidently reported that Rs 2,000 notes would be issued as replacement.

Talking to IANS over the phone, Dubey, who is on the business beat for the Hindi daily, did not reveal his source for the story citing the “ethics of journalism”, but said it came from “informed and long-standing sources”.

It was done routinely, he said, and did not draw attention even from colleagues, forget readers, until the November 8 “surgical strike” on black money — an event that was so “top secret” that ministers were reportedly “quarantined” after the cabinet meeting where they were informed of the decision.

Dubey is happy now that the story has not only been confirmed by subsequent developments, but also that his byline has been noticed by the fraternity everywhere.

“It is a normal yet a good feeling to have filed a story which subsequently was confirmed by the announcement of the Prime Minister,” he said.

Sources in the newspaper, however, contended that Dubey got a whiff of the coming event on the sidelines of the board meeting of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) — the first under new Governor Urjit Patel — which was held on October 20 in Kanpur.

Opposition parties have been accusing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of having leaked news of the impending demonetisation to those close to it.

The CPI-M on Friday accused the party’s central leadership of compromising the confidentiality of Centre’s decision to favour their party, claiming big amounts had been deposited in the accounts of its West Bengal unit in the days preceding the announcement.

“Just hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement on November 8, an amount of one crore was deposited to a savings bank account that belongs to West Bengal wing of BJP. It clearly shows BJP was aware of the impending ban on higher denomination notes, well in advance,” Communist Party of India-Marxist Politburo member and State Secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra told reporters.

However, the BJP has denied it had any prior knowledge about the demonetisation. On Friday, BJP President Amit Shah said at a press conference in New Delhi that the party had no information on the impending demonetisation. He said the information was “only limited to some constitutional and administrative” entities.