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Last Updated Wednesday February 21 2018 11:05 AM IST

Manmohan called it organized loot; Jaitley cited digitization as the target

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PM Modi, Manmohan Singh The former Prime minister Manmohan Singh, broke his usual silence launching a scathing attack on the economic policies of the Modi government, both in his capacity as a statesman and an economist: File photo

How did our leaders respond to demonetization? Did their predictions come true? Here’s a recap of the comments of some of our leaders post the November 8, 2016, note-ban.

War of words on note-ban

Finance minister Arun Jaitley: The volume of currency at 12.2% of GDP in India is very high compared with other countries. This has led to a shadow and parallel economy, facilitating crime and acting as a facilitator for corruption, fake currency and terrorism.

We must move to a greater digital economy. Discussions on demonetization between the government and the RBI started in February 2016.

The design for new notes was approved in May 2016. Utmost secrecy was maintained keeping in view the nature of the exercise.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh: Implementation of the note-ban was a monumental management failure and a case of organized loot and legalized plunder.

The underlying premise behind the decision seems to be this false notion that all cash is black money and all black money is in cash.

At a time when India’s trade numbers are at multi-year lows, industrial production is shrinking, and job creation is anemic, this policy can act as a negative shock to the economy.

It is my humble opinion that we as a nation should brace ourselves for a tough period over the coming months, needlessly so.

Former President Pranab Mukherjee : Demonetization has immobilized a large amount of cash, a part of which was black money. It is not correct to presume that the entire black money is hoarded in cash.

Merely by demonetization one cannot bring an end to black money. Demonetization may lead to a temporary slowdown of economic activity.

As more and more transactions become cashless, it will improve the transparency of the economy.

Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac: Other than hurting the common man, demonetization is not going to help fight black money. Those who have black money don’t hoard it in currency notes in sacks.

Even if Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes are scrapped, the central government itself has kept the option open to bring black money back to Indian banks through the Mauritius route.

The prime minister says the measure is aimed at tackling counterfeit notes from Pakistan. Would these notes have escaped if people were given two weeks’ time?

Rahul Gandhi on Twitter: Once again Mr Modi shows how little he cares about ordinary people of this country — farmers, small shop-keepers, housewives all thrown into utter chaos … while the real culprits sit tight on their black money stashed away abroad or in bullion or real estate. Well done Mr. Modi. (November, 2016)

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram: Support the idea to end black money. But the way it has been done raises questions. Demonetization will initially slow down economic activity. How fast you can remonetize is the real challenge. The UPA had considered such a plan, but abandoned it after finding it illogical.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal: This is independent India's biggest scam. Former BJP minister in Karnataka Janardhan Reddy spent Rs 500 crore on his daughter’s wedding.

But if common people spend more than Rs 2.5 lakh, they will come under the scanner.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley’s daughter got married recently. He should clarify whether he could manage the expenses with just Rs 2.5 lakh.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee : The note ban will take India back by 100 years. The government is acting as if they were saints and everyone else is a thief. Such a stand is unacceptable.

CPM Politburo: Demonetization is aimed at hiding the Modi government’s failures, including on the economic front. The Prime Minister himself has said that most of the black money was stashed abroad.

Fake note of any denomination can be printed. It is a proven fact that funds for terrorist activities are transferred by electronic means.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi: (standing in queue to change old notes) You have been standing in queue for more than a week.

Have you seen a rich person or someone having thousands of crores in the queue? You are made to stand in the queue to deposit money.

Modi will give your money to 15-20 industrialists and the money will be used to wipe out their loans. Modi is running a government of 15 people. I will not name them, you all know who they are.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan: Prime minister Narendra Modi and the BJP have declared war on the common man and the cooperative sector of Kerala. The state will defend itself.

After withdrawing currency notes, should an administrator avoid responsibility by saying that there would be no bank tomorrow and no ATM for two days?

VS Achuthanandan: Life has come to a standstill, but Modi isn’t moving. He is trying to upstage Tughlaq. He didn’t even see it necessary to be in Parliament when it discussed demonetization.

BJP Kerala president Kummanam Rajasekharan: Kerala faced problems due to demonetization because indulgence and lavishness are high here. As much as 80% of the people in the country use currency notes in the denomination of 100. Therefore, scrapping of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes has not affected the common man.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi : Paytm means pay to Modi. This is not a bold decision, it is a foolish decision which has been taken without any due consideration.

In the Second World War, a new way was evolved to do firebombing in 25 minutes and more people died in Tokyo firebombing than in Hiroshima bombing.

The same way Modiji has done firebombing on the poor, farmers and laborers. You have done firebombing on India's cash economy; not on the 1% of people possessing black money, but on the country’s 99% poor people.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley: The number of tax payers has gone up by 91 lakh since demonetization. There is also a significant increase in online transactions and tax income.

Central Board of Direct Taxes Chairman Sushil Chandra: There is a 22% increase in e-filed returns after demonetization. Have identified around 17.92 lakh people in whose case cash transactions did not appear in line with the taxpayer profile.

About 1 lakh suspected tax avoidance cases and Rs 16,398 crore of undisclosed income have also been identified.

Click to explore more in our exclusive Demonetization Special  

The opinions expressed here do not reflect those of Malayala Manorama. Legal action under the IT Act will be taken against those making derogatory and obscene statements.

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