Mamata, Kejriwal on warpath with government over demonetisation (Intro Roundup)

New Delhi, Nov 17 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday jointly tore into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation move and warned of a public revolt if the decision that has caused cash chaos was not reversed in three days.

But the government denied any possibility of rolling back the decision to spike 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, aimed at curbing black money, corruption and terror funding.

Addressing a public rally at the Azadpur fruit wholesale market here, Kejriwal and Banerjee both alleged a conspiracy behind the demonetisaion.

Calling its after-effects a “crisis”, Kejriwal said people didn’t have cash even to buy basic essentials.

“If this was indeed against corruption and black money, the first to support you would have been Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party,” he said, at the rally at one of India’s largest wholesale hubs, which has also been in crisis.

“Take back this decision in three days… Don’t test people’s patience. Otherwise, there will be a ‘bagaawat’ (revolt).”

Addressing the rally earlier, Banerjee mocked at Modi’s “achche din” slogans and said the currency spike decision had caused economic instability in India.

“Is this achche din? If in three days you don’t withdraw (the move), we will step up our protests.”

But Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said there was “no question of rolling back” the demonetisation move and accused Kejriwal and Banerjee of “spreading panic”.

Small businesses in India have taken a huge hit in the aftermath of the currency spike, with people struggling to manage cash for ration, medicines and commuting.

At least 42 deaths – including suicides, cardiac arrests and hospital casualties – in the past few days have been attributed to the demonetisation that has caused a stress in India’s mostly cash-dependent economy.

Kejriwal reminded the audience that he had been an Income Tax commissioner and that it was beyond his understanding how corruption and black money could be checked by introducing new 2,000 rupee notes.

He said banks had given out loans totaling Rs 8 lakh crore to corporate houses. This money, he said, had been siphoned off by the super rich or had been partly written off by banks.

“Nothing is left of the 8 lakh crore loan money,” he said, emphasizing that the government wanted to write off the bad debts as it expected to net 10 lakh crore rupees by asking people to surrender the spiked currency.

“Why are Ambanis and Adanis not being raided? Why are those with Swiss bank accounts not being raided? Why is the rest of India in a queue?”

Kejriwal hurled corruption allegations at Prime Minister Modi — a man he “once thought was honest”. He flashed what he said were Income Tax department’s documents to allege that two corporate houses paid some Rs 40 crore in bribe to Modi when he was the Gujarat Chief Minister and demanded an investigation.

The Trinamool Congress chief said she supported the government’s move to curb black money but won’t let the mayhem continue in the name of fighting corruption.

“Truckers tell me they don’t have money to pay drivers. Trucks are the lifeline of the nation. What will happen if trucks stop running and mandis stop getting vegetables and fruits?

“What will people eat? Diamonds? ATMs? What kind of a joke is this? There is no money for people to buy food, baby food, medicines? What will farmers do?” she asked, adding the situation was not this bad even during the 1975-77 Emergency period.

–IANS

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