Posted On November 9, 2016 By In Business And 213 Views

Rs 1000 & Rs 500 notes ruling: PM Modi gets brickbats, bouquets over ‘surgical strike’ on black money

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement to recall Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes from Tuesday midnight is meant to redeem his election promise to wage a decisive battle against black money. This policy has been in the works for months and high secrecy was maintained till the government worked out all the modalities. Given the context of the crucial upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the move is aimed at giving BJP a “strong talking point” about “a decisive government”. Further, the ban on high-denomination notes is likely to have an impact on election expenditure in UP. The broader political purpose, insiders privy to the move told ET, was also to deflate the Opposition’s barbs on BJP’s anti-black money promises. ET spoke to senior members of the ruling political establishment. They spoke on the condition they not be identified. Those familiar with the government’s thinking said although the withdrawal of current highdenomination notes as legal tender will cause “some disruption among common people”, BJP’s assessment is that soon there will be appreciation for a “genuine move” to attack the black economy. Coming ahead of assembly elections in UP, the move is also likely to provide another campaign pitch for BJP. BJP leaders told  that the “decisive call” on black money will complement the Modi government’s decision to conduct surgical strikes across the Line of Control after Pakistan-sponsored attacks on the Uri army base. Also, in the immediate term, the government’s decision is likely to upset election expenditure plans of most candidates in UP and other poll-bound states – much of India’s on-ground election expenditure happens in cash, despite Election Commission rules. BJP President Amit Shah dubbed Prime Minister’s announcement as a “surgical strike” that will not only uproot “corruption, black money, hawala & fake currency rackets” but also thwart “evil  designs of anti-India elements who support terror on Indian soil, fake currency rackets & narcotics”. “This decision of PM @narendramodi is a surgical strike on menace of corruption and black money,” Shah said in a post on Twitter immediately after the prime minister’s announcement. The ruling party president, in this context, reminded that the move also indicated that Modi has honoured his promise to wage a decisive battle against black money in the country. “PM @narendramodi has yet again demonstrated his unwavering commitment to promises he made to people of India,” Shah asserted. Opposition parties had picked on Shah’s usage of the word “jumla” to explain why Modi’s general election promise on black money was not “honoured”. “Jumla” means an undertaking that’s not be taken at face value. The jumla controversy had played out during Bihar elections, which BJP lost. The Modi government has taken several measures targeting black money, including the setting up of a special investigation team in its very first cabinet meeting in 2014. Subsequently, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has piloted certain legislative measures and most recently, presided over an income-disclosure scheme to incentivise declaration of black money. The PM, in his televised address to the nation, referred to these measures to make the point that approximately Rs 1.25 lakh crore of black money has been unearthed. Modi’s announcement, BJP leaders said, has demonstrated that he’s prepared to go further to keep his promise.

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