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Even Diehard Modi Bhakts Aren’t Happy With Demonetisation

Even the staunchest of Modi bhakts have reservations about how demonetisation was implemented.

Updated
Politics
3 min read
If not demonetisation,  its implementation has raised questions in several pro-Modi camps. (Image: The Quint/Lijumol Joseph)

“Dada... is that you or has your account been hacked?”, reads the very first response to Swapan Dasgupta’s uncharacteristic tweet criticising the government’s 17 December gazette notification putting restrictions on deposits henceforth.

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“New caveats on depositing old notes till 30 December were unnecessary and will undermine people's faith in government assurances. A terrible last move”, wrote the senior journalist who was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the Modi government in April this year.

Individuals can deposit over Rs 5,000 in old currency bills only once until 30 December and that too after explaining why it had not been done so far.
Gazette notification dated 17 December

BJP spokespersons refrained from commenting on the senior journalist-turned MP who only last week, hailed demonetisation as the “boldest step taken in the anti-black money crusade initiated by the prime minister”.

“He’s from the Rajya Sabha and from our own party”, they said.

One could argue that Swapan Dasgupta expressed his reservations against a rule, not the policy. But the senior journalist chose to speak out when he could’ve just reserved his comments. And he’s not the only one. A string of BJP-leaning economists, columnists and opinion-makers have expressed serious doubts over demonetisation after initially applauding it.

Much before Swapan, another Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy embarassed the BJP when he said there should’ve been a contingency plan.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy at his residence. (Photo Courtesy: Subramanian Swamy/Facebook)
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy at his residence. (Photo Courtesy: Subramanian Swamy/Facebook)
The preparation for implementing what the Prime Minister has decided was not there in place. For instance, only now the Finance Ministry has woken up to the idea that we need to remodel the ATMs, that is going to take three weeks.
Subramanian Swamy, BJP MP
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Yoga guru and a long-time Modi confidante Baba Ramdev took everyone by surprise when he said “demonetisation will expose a Rs 3-5 lakh crore scam”, “Prime Minister Modi has been misled by corrupt bankers” and that his “support to the BJP was a thing of the past”.

NITI Aayog Chairman Arvind Panagriya went from hailing demonetisation as a step that would have a “very positive” long-term impact on the economy, to a more cautious defence of its implementation. Speaking about the RBI and the banking system’s inability to cope with the demand for fresh cash, the economist said it was “probable” that the government announced demonetisation ahead of its time due to leaked reports about a new Rs 2,000 note.

Niti Aayog Chairman Arvind Panagriya. (Photo: PTI) 
Niti Aayog Chairman Arvind Panagriya. (Photo: PTI) 
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And while Chetan Bhagat is no authority on the Indian economy, the fact that a diehard Modi bhakt turned critic just three days after Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were scrapped speaks volumes about how the move has polarised the BJP’s support base.

Has it also polarised the BJP?

Reports of Amit Shah flying into a fit of rage when questioned by party MPs, the studied silence from the RSS, and the U-turn on demonetisation by diehard BJP bhakts could reflect the unease within.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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