Rs 500, Rs 1,000 ban: Reaction to Modi's demonetisation move shows how it has upset upcoming elections
Thanks to demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the upcoming assembly elections in UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa will also test political parties and their candidates on if or not they can deliver without distributing cash
"Bhagwan kabhi maaf nahi karega" was Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's bitter punch against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ban on old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes aimed at curbing black money and fake currency in India.
Interestingly, Kejriwal seemed to have taken a cue from BSP chief Mayawati's barb against Modi's announcement of the surprise demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes alleging that Modi had leaked this information to his "friends" in the BJP and elsewhere to deposit their back money in foreign banks, buy landed properties and gold.
Why was it that no big industrialist, or businessman, was seen in the queues at banks to change his currency notes? According to him, Modi's (inke doston) friends have already done their "setting" for "home delivery of Rs 2,000 notes" in the next few days. While making this allegation the Delhi chief minister and Aam Admi Party boss conveniently forgot that he, his ministers and other party leaders too did not stand in a queue to exchange old notes for the new ones. Aam Aadmi Party would underscore that part too.
Mind you, Kejriwal owes his rise to prominence in politics to his association with Anna Hazare as an anti-corruption crusader. But completely unmindful of his own image, he is now criticising what is being hailed as a bold and decisive move by the prime minister against corruption, black money, fake currency and terror financing.
More so, Kejriwal's video message was released hours after BSP chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had raved and ranted against Modi on the same issue. Three senior opposition leaders, albeit of rival formations, blazing their guns on an anti-corruption move has loaded connotations.
Rahul Gandhi and the Congress can relish this moment and bask in the glory. For once, he set the agenda by being the first one to blast PM Modi on demonetisation move. Rahul's thesis is now being followed by the likes of Kejriwal, Mayawati and Mulayam.
What is noteworthy is that all the three leaders — Mulayam, Mayawati and Kejriwal — who trained guns at Modi linked the immediate demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes with the coming state elections in UP, Uttrakhand, Punjab and Goa.
Kejriwal's charge was that Modi made this big move after making arrangements to fight assembly elections in UP and other states by converting his party's Rs 1,000 notes into Rs 100 notes. Mulayam and Mayawati too had levelled similar political charge that Modi's move is angled at the coming elections. "Aapko kewal chunav dikh raha hai," Mulayam said.
This writer had earlier written how Modi's move would impact elections in these states, and how political parties and candidates in the fray including BJP's who had kept their cash chest loaded would feel the pinch. Thus apart from popular curiosity on win and loss, the coming round of assembly elections would also be scrutinised as to how the political parties and their candidates devise new modes of campaigning, cash distribution and fight elections.
While the Congress will be pitted against BJP in all these states, SP and BSP are serious contenders in UP, whereas AAP is claiming that it has emerged as an alternate political force in Punjab and Goa.
Mayawati's attack against Modi was sharp and blunt. She seemed to be very angry. Amar Ujala, a leading Hindi daily in Uttar Pradesh today published a photo feature showing SUVs outside a BSP office in Lucknow with suitcases in their boots. The cars would go inside the BSP headquarter and move out after loading something in those suitcases. The newspaper quoted BSP leaders who claimed that candidates were called for a meeting and were provided with publicity material to be dispatched to various districts.
Various political leaders including those who rebelled against Mayawati have alleged that the BSP Chief sold party tickets for Rs 2-5 crore. Rebel BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya who later joined BJP had called her the "Goddess of corruption". Mayawati has often been called daulat ki beti, paraphrasing her dalit ki beti or devi usage.
However, in contrast to Mayawati's blunt allegation, Mulayam's anguish on the subject was a bit sober. While supporting Modi saheb's move to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the Samajwadi Party chief demanded a week's reprieve for all to take care of stashed high-value cash.
While it's open to interpretations why the SP chief is demanding a week's extension for free flow and exchange of old high denomination currency, his argument is not without reasoning. Sample his logic: marriage ceremony of crores of brides has got affected, traders no longer fulfill their financial obligations, several transactions are done over phone but each of their words carry trust (for post-dated financial transactions), businessman's plight is severely impacting farmers, poor people are suffering, economy will come to a grinding halt and held hostage in hands of "few big houses".
Mulayam said: "Badi khatarnak sthiti banegi. Videshon se bhi paisa nahi ayega... itna asmanjas ho gaya hai ki demag me nahi aa raha hai ki kya karein (this would lead to a very dangerous situation. Money would not come from abroad either... The dilemma is so intense that the mind can't think of what to do).
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