Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on 8 November, the quoting of financial figures and jargon has become common to the extent that people at chowrahas (public squares) too have begun to talk like bankers. Most of it is being used to target the tardy implementation of the move.
The latest figure to use these figures against Modi is the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who of late, has been using a lot of financial jargon in his growing opposition to the ruling government. In Mehsana in Gujarat on Wednesday and in Bahraich in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday, he fired a salvo of charges like "Modi firebombed the poor", "How many black money hoarders have been put in jail by Modiji", “Instead of targeting 94 percent of black money, he targeted the remaining six percent”, “Banks disbursed lakh crores of rupees as loans but never got it back” and so on.
Rahul has challenged the prime minister to reply to his volley of questions.
But, before Modi does so, the Congress vice-president — who has aggressively taken him on in public — needs to introspect on what happened during the 10 years of the UPA regime. In the context of demonetisation, Rahul on Thursday alleged that the Central government ‘deliberately’ stalled cash dispensation from banks and ATMs to keep it in the banks for at least six to seven months 'so that banks can write off loans of rich families'.
Rahul and his party need to be alert about the fact that Modi’s tenure only began after his swearing-in as the 15th prime minister on 26 May, 2014. What about the bad loans, rising NPAs (non-performing assets) and pampering of the super-rich like Vijay Mallya and others who swindled public sector banks through loans prior to 2014?
Here are some facts:
The All-India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) released the details of 406 bad loan accounts with public sector banks (PSBs) in 2014. These 406 loans account for NPAs worth Rs 70,300 crore. As per AIBEA’s list of bank defaulters, the total NPA in PSBs till September 2013 was Rs 2.36 lakh crore. The bad loans restructured and shown as good loans amount to another Rs 3.25 lakh crore. This massive amount of taxpayer money was conveniently adjusted during UPA-II to pep up the banks’ balance sheets.
"The NPAs registered by the PSBs in March 2008 was Rs 39,000 crore and fresh bad loans in PSBs in the last seven years is Rs 4.95 lakh crore,” the AIBEA report released in 2014 mentioned.
AIBEA general secretary CH Venkatachalam had told this correspondent in May 2014, "Bad loans written off in the past 13 years come to the tune of Rs 2.04 lakh crore. Profits transferred and adjusted for provisions toward bad loans from 2008 to 2013 was Rs 1.4 lakh crore. The bad loans in 172 corporate accounts of Rs 100 crore or above stand at Rs 37,000 crore."
There are many other facts that the Congress vice-president will have to cross-check before making a foolproof attack on Modi.
Political analyst MD Nalapat observes, "Rahul’s success depends on the failure of Modi’s demonetisation move, so he’s banking a lot on the after-effects of demonetisation — after the 30 December deadline. If Modi continues to be popular among people, any charge against him, no matter how serious the proof is, will be discarded by people. But, if Modi becomes unpopular, any charge however flimsy, might go against him. So, Rahul’s future depends on the failure of demonetisation.”
The Congress vice-president has clearly figured out that if the troubles being faced by common Indians due to demonetisation do not ease up even after the 30 December deadline given by Modi himself, he will win the jackpot. It is no wonder then that he is upping the ante by hitting the demonetisation move at all his public speeches these days.
"Instead of attacking black money, Modiji attacked the poor and labourers," said the Nehru-Gandhi scion by weaving a maze around the issue of demonetisation.
Rahul is hammering a rhetoric repeatedly to make people believe him because if he has to succeed, Modi’s demonetisation will have to fail.
Modi has to become unpopular among the masses.
Till then, the Congress party and Rahul, who has positioned himself as a strong 'anti-Modi face' in the Opposition block, will have to wait with fingers crossed and bated breath (at least till 30 December) for Modi to fail, and to become unpopular among his electorate that voted him to power exhibiting a strong brand loyalty for this Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pracharak-turned-politician-turned-prime minister, not to mention his chaiwala past.
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: Dec 23, 2016 07:58:03 IST