All India Outrage Day: Anger Against Demonetisation Disaster Spills Out On Streets

WITH EVERY PASSING DEMONETISED DAY, the distress of common people continues to mount. More than 80 people have lost their lives due to demonetisation. Farmers are suffering devastation, workers are losing jobs, and people are denied healthcare. But the Prime Minister has not displayed any interest in acknowledging the colossal disaster that demonetisation has proved to be. Instead of alleviating people’s suffering, he launched a self-serving ‘survey’ in a personal app, and promptly proceeded to claim that the app-survey showed that demonetisation had the approval of 92% of Indians. This, in spite of the fact that a mere 17% of Indians use smart phones and a tiny fraction of these participated in the survey, and moreover that the survey was designed to elicit only approving responses, failing to provide a ‘disagree’ option on its most crucial questions!

Exposing the farce of Modi’s app-based ‘survey’, millions of common Indians came on the streets on 28 November to express their anger and participate in People’s Outrage (Jan Akrosh) protests all over the country. Here, too, Modi himself proceeded to claim that the opposition parties had declared a Bharat Bandh – and since no Bharat Bandh took place, he declared the protests a flop. Just as he declared his demonetisation move ‘passed with flying colours’ in a test he himself set and examined, Modi declared the people’s protests a ‘failure’ in the imaginary ‘Bharat Bandh’ that no one had declared!

If the people’s opposition to demonetisation could be seen and heard on the streets, the complicity of certain ‘Opposition’ leaders like Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar in the demonetisation calamity is also glaringly visible. Nitish Kumar won a popular mandate in Bihar on the promise of rebuffing and resisting the BJP. At the earliest opportunity, however, Nitish Kumar has gone out of his way to bail out the BJP, betraying his mandate and leaving in the lurch the common people of Bihar, the bulk of whom, as poor farmers and migrant labourers, are devastated by demonetisation.

In his latest policy announcement, PM Modi reintroduced the scheme of voluntary disclosure of unaccounted-for cash, even after December 30, the deadline announced earlier. This scheme is essentially a rehash of the Government’s income disclosure scheme that ended in September, with the modification that this time, the penalty is 50 per cent – just 5 per cent more than the penalty that had been in place in the scheme that ended in September. In 2014 Modi came to power promising to bring back black money from foreign shores. That promise seems to lie forgotten as Modi instead claimed to have launched a ‘surgical strike’ in the form of demonetisation, on black money on 8 November. But now, instead of a devastating ‘strike’ to destroy black money, the Government is once again seeking to whitewash black money! We must expose and reject such attempts to whitewash black money, and instead demand that black money holders be punished and their black money confiscated.

Shockingly, even as BJP claims to crusade against black money, a Demonetization Scam is unfolding. There is evidence that on the eve of demonetization, the BJP national party, through its local leaders, bought up lakhs of crores worth of land in Bihar, Odisha and, according to the claims of its own Bihar leader Sushil Modi, in every district in India. Modi mocked all criticism of and opposition to the demonetisation decision, claiming that these were just the protests by Opposition parties which did not get time to ‘prepare’ – i.e get rid of illegally gotten cash. It seems that the ruling BJP was given time by the Modi Government to ‘prepare’ by converting black money into real estate! An impartial but urgent probe is called for into this Note Ban Scam.

Modi’s latest ‘Mann ki Baat’ broadcast has once again reiterated the claim that the Note Ban has caused ‘small inconveniences’ for ‘small people’ and huge difficulties for the corrupt rich. The evidence is however entirely to the contrary. The super-rich and corrupt continue to hold wedding extravaganzas and indulge in conspicuous consumption while for the poor, demonetisation has become a matter of life and death. More than 4 lakh jobs have been destroyed by demonetisation, the most vulnerable informal sector workers and poor peasants are worst hit.

The PM is doing nothing to cushion the common people from or compensate for job loss, wage loss and other consequences of the demonetisation disaster. Instead he is holding up the mirage of a ‘cashless economy’ as a pro-poor paradise that demonetisation will create in the long term. The world experience shows that the poor and small businesses in every country depend on cash transactions to survive. In a country like India, where internet coverage is low and services unreliable, the notion of a ‘cashless’ economy is laughable. The PM’s claim that cashless transactions are safer and less vulnerable to corruption is also false: online transactions are just as if not even more vulnerable to theft than offline ones.

The Modi Government must not be allowed to get away with its outrageous falsehoods about demonetization. The PM continues to assure people that after 50 days the demonetisation ‘side-effects’ will subside. But he is yet to declare when exactly people will be allowed to withdraw freely from their own hard-earned savings. The PM must be held accountable for the people’s sufferings caused by demonetization. The Government must compensate each of India’s common citizens with Rs 2000 per day for each day that the demonetisation disaster lasts. If the disaster lasts 50 days, the Government must pay each common citizen a compensation of Rs 1 lakh.

The resistance to the Demonetisation Disaster and Note Bank Scam must intensify, exposing every false claim and nailing every lie of the killer Modi Government.

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