New Delhi: Stepping up its attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress on Saturday, held his "draconian decision" on demonetisation responsible for the death of 55 people and asked him to apologise to their families and the country.
The party also demanded that the government must pay adequate compensation to the families who have lost their near and dear ones. The Congress also said that printing currency notes worth Rs 15 lakh crore, to replace those that have been withdrawn, would take at least three to eight months.
The Congress further said the move was not planned and was only meant as an image-building exercise of the Prime Minister. “We have a Prime Minister who takes a decision first, thinks later and never admits to his mistakes,” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.
“The problem with this government is that whoever questions them are branded anti-nationals. We demand that Modi apologise to the families of the deceased. An inquiry should be held into these deaths,” he added.
The Congress also hit out at the government for bringing in new guidelines almost everyday following the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. “In the past nine days, they have come up with 18 guidelines. There was no planning at all before taking the decision,” said Surjewala.
Congress said the government decided to put ink on everyone’s finger coming to change currency but the Election Commission has opposed the decision.
“Election Commission negated the decision to put ink. Truth is that government’s right hand does not know as to what is being done by the left hand. Confusion confounds Modi government completely,” he said.
Surjewala said due to demonetisation, 1,658 crore notes of Rs 500 and 668 crore notes of Rs 1,000 i.e. a total of 2,327 crore notes valued at about Rs 15 lakh crore, have been withdrawn.
“The 1,000 rupee notes are printed by Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran Private Limited. It has a capacity to print 133 crore notes per month in two shifts. Even if three shifts were to work, this company can print 200 crore notes per month,” said Surjewala.
“If this company was to print new Rs 2,000 notes as against the old Rs 1,000 notes, the entire operation will take three-and-a-half months. Rs 500 notes are printed by Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited, which has a capacity to print 100 crore notes per month,” he added.
He further said: “If this capacity is doubled overnight, it will still take nearly eight months or more to print 1,658 crore notes of Rs 500.”
Hitting out at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Surjewala said: “There are only two lakh ATMs in the country. As per the Finance Minister, only 22,250 ATMs have been recalibrated and upgraded in last 10 days.
“If this figure is correct, it will take 110 days to recalibrate and upgrade all the two lakh ATMs. What will happen to people of the country in this period?” he asked.
The Congress also slammed the government for putting an embargo on all cooperative banks, rural development banks, primary land development banks and cooperative credit societies from either changing money or dispensing new notes.