Opposition parties on Wednesday lashed out at the government after the RBI’s annual report revealed low efficacy of November 8 demonetisation, with the Congress demanding an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called it a “big scam” while the Communist Party of India-Marxist called it an “anti-national act”.
Former Union Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram said only one per cent of the junked notes had not returned to the RBI which he said was a “shame”.
Chidambaram said 99 per cent of the scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes had been legally exchanged and asked if the Modi government’s demonetisation decision was “designed to convert black money into white”.
In a series of tweets, Chidambaram said the cost of printing new currency was more than the money gained by the Reserve Bank of India.
“Rs 16,000 crore out of demonetised notes of Rs 1,544,000 crore did not come back to the RBI. That is 1 per cent. Shame on the RBI which ‘recommended’ demonetisation.
“RBI ‘gained’ Rs 16,000 crore, but ‘lost’ Rs 21,000 crore in printing new notes! The economists deserve a Nobel Prize,” Chidambaram said sarcastically.
He said: “99 per cent notes legally exchanged! Was demonetisation a scheme designed to convert black money into white?”
The RBI said on Wednesday that of the Rs 15.44 lakh crore taken out of circulation, Rs 15.28 lakh crore had returned to the system by way of public deposits.
Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala sought Modi’s apology on demonetisation, saying it had dented India’s credibility and the corrupt made windfall gains while 104 innocent people lost their lives in the “disaster”.
Surjewala took jibes at the Prime Minister through tweets while referring to his Independence Day speech in which he said black money of Rs 3 lakh crore had been unearthed after demonetisation.
He also referred to Modi’s past speech with a headline — “Give me 50 days, burn me alive if I am wrong”.
Accusing Modi of obfuscation, Surjewala said figures given by the RBI had again exposed the government.
Surjewala said former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s prediction that demonetisation will reduce Gross Domestic Product by two per cent had proved true and the Indian economy “suffered due to this massive folly”.
“Reality-RBI data released today proves only Rs 16,000 crore of the Rs 15.44 lakh crore money in circulation came back. Of this, Rs 9,000 crore still stuck. Perspective: This Rs 16,000 crore is just 1 per cent of the total notes demonetised. Rs 21,000 crore spent to recover Rs 16,000 crore!” Surjewala tweeted.
Mamata Banerjee said on Twitter and Facebook: “Is not the RBI’s revelation this evening on demonetisation pointing to a big scam? I feel it was a total flop show.”
CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said the Modi government cannot be forgiven for demonetisation.
“99.9 per cent of the notes back in the banking system. 100s died in queues. The poor suffered the most. All this for what? Lives and livelihoods lost, the economy got a shock, workers lost their jobs. India can never forgive Modi government for this anti-national act,” Yechury said on Twitter.
“Boasts on end to black money, terror and counterfeit currency have all fallen flat. Despite RBI’s delays, the truth is out,” he added.
According to the RBI annual report for the last fiscal, 89 million pieces of the banned Rs 1,000, totalling Rs 8,900 crore, had not been returned, out of 6,700 million such notes. This amounts to 1.3 per cent of the Rs 1,000 notes in circulation before demonetisation.