After meeting top party leaders to plan nationwide protests on November 8, the first anniversary of the notes ban, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi delivered another instalment of criticism for the government on its reform policies today, calling demonetisation and the new national tax GST “double torpedoes”. Demonetisation, Mr Gandhi said, is a disaster, while GST is “a good idea implemented badly.”
The Congress has declared Sunday next, November 8, as “black day” and plans protests all over the country. Other opposition parties like the DMK and Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress too have announced similar plans. The opposition said yesterday that an amalgamation of 18 parties including the Congress, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool and the Left will ensure that the day is observed as a “black day” with protests and rallies in different states to highlight the cash crunch and economic slowdown that followed demonetisation. The Centre has said it will observe November 8 or demonetisation anniversary as “anti-black money day”.
Mr Gandhi met with top leaders of his party, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram at his party’s headquarters in Delhi.
“PM Modi saying that November 8 will be celebrated conveys the message that he has not understood the pain and feelings of people. November 8 is a sad day for India… Demonetisation was a disaster. I don’t know what is there to celebrate,” Mr Gandhi said. “The notes ban was the first torpedo; the wrong implementation of GST was the second torpedo. They showed how a good idea like GST can be rushed in and destroyed by the government.” Last week, he had called them “two shots to the chest” that have “killed the economy.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced on November 8 last year that high-value notes were being immediately scrapped in an attempt to rid the economy of black money. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced last week that November 8 will be celebrated by the BJP as “anti-black money day.”
“I think the Congress has not understood the concept of demonetisation. The ownership of cash is not known; it is an anonymous owner. So when cash gets deposited in banks, what was being laundered earlier, now gets into the law books. So for entry into the lawful system, you are liable to pay tax,” the Finance Minister said.
Rahul Gandhi has led the opposition in attacking the government over Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth plunging to a three-year low of 5.7 per cent in the June quarter. He has blamed the notes ban and what he calls a faulty implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, which he alleges has brought small businesses to their knees.
The government has defended both policies as key structural reforms that will deliver massive benefits for the economy in the long run.