Ahead of the budget session of parliament, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley has attacked Rahul Gandhi, saying he is interested only in disrupting parliament. In his blog today on the ban on 500 and 1000 rupee notes announced on November 8, Mr Jaitley also used Mr Gandhi's example to draw a parallel with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and what he called the "marked difference" in their approach.
Underscoring that the Prime Minister was being "futuristic", "modern" and "technology driven," he wrote, "the Prime Minister was thinking of the next generation while Rahul Gandhi was only looking at how to disrupt the next Session of Parliament".
Jaitley wrote that there was no "social unrest" while implementing the currency ban. "All opinion polls conducted by independent media organizations have shown that an overwhelmingly large percentage of people have supported the Government's decision."
Accusing the opposition of disrupting a full session of parliament, he said their protests have been ineffective and claims of "disruption of the economy" have proved wrong. "It is a tragedy that a national party like the Congress decided to adopt a political position, opposing both technology, change and reforms. It sided with black money friendly status quo," he said.
"It (note ban) is obviously disruptive. All reforms are disruptive. They change the retrograde status quo. The demonetisation puts a premium on honesty and penalises dishonest conduct... (Therefore, those opposing it have) sided with the black money friendly status quo," Jaitley said.
Jaitley said a surge in low-cost deposits had enabled banks to "lend for growth” that would bring down interest rates.
"The period of pain and inconveniences is getting over….there was no social unrest while implementing such a major decision,” he said. "Lakhs of crores, which were floating in the market as loose currency have now entered the banking system.”
Jaitley said the long-term gains of the move would outweigh the pain when the exercise was being implemented. "Drop in economic activity on account of the currency squeeze during the remonetisation period would have a transient impact on the economy,” he said.
The Demonetisation move came under fire after almost the entire amount that was demonetised came back into the system, leaving many wondering about the effectiveness of the scheme. However, Jaitley said that black money did not change its colour merely by getting deposited in the bank. "On the contrary, it loses its anonymity and can now be identified with its owner,” he said.
The move was aimed at draining illegal cash from the economy but opposition parties and some economists have argued that the move has adversely affected farmers and the poor with large-scale job losses and a hollowing-out of the rural economy.