On the second anniversary of demonetisation, Congress president Rahul Gandhi called it “a tragedy” and accused the Narendra Modi government of bringing the Indian economy to a “grinding halt” with his “unilateral decision” taken on 8 November 2016.
“November 8 will forever go down in the history of India, as a day of infamy. Two years ago, on this day, Prime Minister Modi unleashed the tyranny of demonetisation on the nation,” said the 48-year-old Congress chief.
“With that one declaration of demonetisation, Modi took 86 per cent of India’s currency out of circulation, bringing our economy to a grinding halt,” Gandhi said at a press conference in New Delhi.
He said that though India has faced many tragedies in the past, “demonetisation is unique in the history of our tragedies because it was a self-inflicted, suicidal attack that destroyed millions of lives and ruined thousands of India’s small businesses”.
“The worst hit by demonetisation were the poorest of the poor, forced to queue for days to exchange their meagre savings,” he said.
Gandhi claimed that over 120 people died standing in the queues during demonetisation.
“We must never forget them. Millions of small and medium businesses were smashed and the entire informal sector devastated,” he said.
He also said that demonetisation failed to achieve its stated objectives, which were ending circulation of counterfeit currency and terrorism, permanently removing the scourge of black money, increasing savings and forcing a shift to digital transactions.
“Modi’s demonetisation cost India over one and a half million jobs and wiped out at least 1 per cent from our GDP,” said Gandhi.
Calling Arun Jaitley “incompetent”, Gandhi said that the Finance Minister has the “unenviable task of defending an indefensible, criminal policy”.
“India will discover, no matter how the government tries to hide it, that demonetisation wasn’t just an ill-conceived and poorly executed economic policy with ‘innocent intent’, but a carefully planned, criminal financial scam,” he said.