New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday accused the Opposition of inventing reasons to run away from a debate on demonetisation and took a swipe at former PM Manmohan Singh over his criticism, saying it is no surprise that he is unhappy as "maximum black money was generated" under his rule.
Rejecting Singh's contention that GDP growth will plunge by 2 percent, he said demonetisation will have a positive impact on the economy over medium to long term as the money from shadow economy will find its way into the mainstream.
"Those who did not consider the generation of so much black money and scams during their regime as blunder are now finding the crusade against black money as a blunder," Jaitley said.
His response came after Singh castigated the government and the Prime Minister over demonetisation during Rajya Sabha debate, saying its implementation was a "monumental management failure" and a case of "organised loot and legalised plunder."
As the Rajya Sabha was repeatedly adjourned with Opposition insisting that the Prime Minister be present during the entire debate, Jaitley lashed out at the opposition saying it was not keen on the debate but on disruption.
"The government position is very clear from the day one that we are ready for the debate.... The Opposition was finding excuses to avoid discussion but today morning they were taken by surprise when we announced that the Prime Minister will participate in the debate.
"Now they are inventing and manufacturing reasons to escape the debate," Jaitley told the media.
Lashing out at the previous UPA government, Jaitley alleged that "the maximum black money was generated during the 2004-14 as well as the period was engulfed in various scams like 2G and coal scam".
"We are not surprised that they did not like the anti-black money measures the government has taken...Those who did not consider the generation of so much black money and scams during their regime as blunder are now finding the crusade against black money as a blunder," he said.
Stressing that demonetisation decision will have a "positive" impact on the economy, Jaitley said, "This (the move) will have a positive impact as far as the medium and long terms are concerned. A lot of shadow money will become part of the banking system (due to demonetisation)."
The minister said the measure will increase the lending capacity of banks which could extend the money to farmers, social sector and also industry.
Seeking to bring out the contrast between the UPA and the current NDA regimes, the Minister said the previous government had "policy paralysis" and thus, could not take "tough decision" unlike the Modi dispensation.
On an allegation that some BJP leaders were aware of the move, while Jaitley was not kept in the loop, the Finance Minister said, "This decision was kept a secret. The people who needed to know, knew (about it)... the allegation is already contradictory that the information was known to some BJP members as though I was not a BJP member."
Jaitley also rejected the accusation that RBI governor Urjit Patel did not address the media after the announcement of the scheme, saying the "office people are supposed to perform" and not come out in front of the camera.
Underlining that the demonetisation decision is in the interest of the country, he said the government has taken the "right steps" and is implementing it in the "right manner" and will defend it.
He also rejected the JPC demand by some of the Opposition parties, saying there should be some "evidence" or "blame" for initiating such investigation.