NEW DELHI: Union finance minister
Arun Jaitley staunchly defended the
demonetisation drive on Thursday after several opposition leaders, including Congress president
Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh, made a scathing assessment of the move on its second anniversary.
Hitting back at the opposition for criticising demonetisation, Jaitley said the "prophets of doom" have been "conclusively proved wrong" with India retaining its position as the fastest growing economy for the fifth year in a row.
Earlier today, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said that "scars and wounds" caused by the "ill-fated" and "ill-thought" exercise are getting more visible with time. The senior Congress leader said that the second anniversary of note ban is a day to remember how "economic misadventures" could roil the nation.
Later, Congress president
Rahul Gandhi alleged
+ that note ban was a planned "brutal conspiracy" and a "shrewd scheme" to convert the black money of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "suit-booted friends".
Launching a counter-attack after Singh's criticism, the BJP fired off 10 questions to the Congress, asking why it finds merit in protesting every "anti-corruption" measure of the Narendra Modi government.
"Why does the Congress find merit in protesting against every anti-corruption measure of the Government of India? What do they fear? Why is it that wherever black money is there, the Congress is not far behind?" the BJP posted on twitter.
What sort of politics and "anti-development mindset" the Congress has that opposes a bold move that has widened the tax base, it asked.
The ruling party further queried if the Congress can name even one stringent measure aimed at eliminating corruption and black money it took during the UPA government.
"Is the Congress living in a state of denial that it cannot see the surge in GDP numbers, the 'Ease of Doing Business Rankings' and Global Competitiveness Index? Why are they unhappy that India's economic prowess is being recognized world over?" the BJP asked.
Apart from Congress, several other opposition parties too targeted the government.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal questioned the rationale behind the Modi government's note ban move and termed it as "a self-inflicted deep wound" on the Indian economy.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the demonetisation move was initiated for the benefit of a handful of people, saying the common men were the worst sufferers.
Congress's spokesperson Anand Sharma, at a press conference, said that
demonetisation was "a big money laundering project"
The DMK called the move a "one-man made disaster" for the country with the economy getting hit irreversibly.
Responding to the critics, Jaitley, in a Facebook post, said that note ban has strengthened the economy and increased the government resources to fund poverty alleviation and infrastructure development programmes.
"What has happened to 'prophets of doom' who said India's GDP will decline by at least 2 per cent. For the fifth year running, India will be the fastest growing (large) economy in the world. It is continuing to happen. So prophets of doom have been proved wrong and conclusively proved wrong," he told reporters here. Earlier, Jaitley in a Facebook post said demonetisation has helped in formalising the economy, expanding tax base and earmarking more resources for the poor.
Jaitley further said, "Even when there was global stress, we still manage to have respectable growth rates and we had the courage because of leadership of the Prime Minister... we took decisive steps and these steps which are not economically correct have helped the system in the long run, and the long run in this case does not mean generations," he said.
The finance minister said that demonetisation has favourably impacted tax system, digitisation and formalisation of the India economy.
"Of course, there is a long distance we still have to cover and I am certain in the coming years the advantage of these movements in the right direction will strengthen the India economy," he said.
A host of Union ministers including Prakash Javadekar, Dharmendra Pradhan and Radha Mohan Singh hailed Modi for demonetisation and attacked the opposition for criticising the move.
The Modi government on November 8, 2016, demonetised high value currency notes of old 500 and 1000 rupees, constituting 86 per cent of the currency in circulation.