Mocking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s monthly radio programme ‘Mann ki Baat’ amid the heated political discourse over the Centre’s demonetisation of high-value currency notes, the Congress will now organise ‘Money ki Baat’ with the citizens starting November 20.
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The city unit of the party, headed by Sanjay Nirupam, will embark on a mass awareness campaign on the “hardships” of the common man in the wake of the withdrawal of Rs 1,000 and old Rs 500 currency notes from circulation last week.
Addressing a press conference, Nirupam claimed that the demonetisation move had “failed to curb black money and counterfeit currency”.
“We will organise ‘Money ki Baat’ outside banks, railway stations and market places without disturbing the citizens…protests will also be planned.
“We will tell the people that this demonetisation is a fraud. (It’s) an ill-conceived decision with no preparation to implement it,” he alleged.
Nirupam said as part of the drive, open debates will be held in the “people’s court”.
“This (demonetisation) has affected bullion as well as retail markets, apart from restaurants, vegetable vendors, theatres, healthcare, pharmaceutical, textile and leather sectors in Mumbai.
“Production has virtually stopped and employment has been hit. The labour market has virtually collapsed and economic activities have come to a standstill,” he alleged.
The Congress leader accused Modi of “dictating” the monetary policy which he said was “against the rules of RBI”.
“How can the government decide that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes are illegal tenders without pumping in enough notes of lower denominations,” he asked.
Nirupam said out of the Rs 17 lakh crore worth currency in the market, Rs 400 crore was counterfeit. “If putting an end to black money is the focus of the demonetisation, then what is the logic behind printing Rs 2,000 currency notes,” he said.
Rebuking the Maharashtra government over collection of dues such as tax etc. in invalid currencies from the people, Nirupam demanded a “break-up” of the loss caused in stamp duty and octroi collection after the demonetisation.
The state government had allowed the people to pay water tax, electricity bills, municipality taxes etc. in the scrapped notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500, which has resulted in a substantial rise in its coffers.
The Congress leader said, “We require 2,300 crore pieces of currency notes and at present, our capacity is to produce only 300 crore pieces a month, (which means) this crisis will continue for seven months.”
He alleged that the invalid tenders were being “illegally converted” into dollars at the rate of Rs 117 per dollar.
“Gold prices have gone up and in places like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, bribes are being sought and paid in the new Rs 2,000 currency notes. All the cash is not black money and all the black money is not cash,” he said, adding that the brunt of Modi’s demonetisation move was being borne by the middle-income and low-income groups.
“The patience of the people is running out,” he said. Nirupam sought Modi’s clarification on how he ran his “high-voltage” campaign for the 2014 general election as the BJP’s prime ministerial nominee.
“How were the expenses met…was it all white money?,” he asked.