Opposition leaders have criticised the government over the central bank’s announcement that it will withdraw Rs 2,000 notes from circulation. They have compared the move to the overnight ban of high-value currency notes in November 2016.
The ruling BJP has rejected the allegations and pointed out that the Rs 2,000 note will continue to remain valid, as announced by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the latest move will “hit the common people hard once again”.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge called for an investigation. “You inflicted a deep wound on the economy with the first demonetisation. Due to this, the entire unorganised sector was destroyed, MSMEs were closed down and crores of jobs were lost,” Mr Kharge said. “Now, the second demonetisation of Rs 2,000 note is here… Is this a cover-up of a wrong decision? Only an unbiased investigation will reveal the truth,” he alleged.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted the centre earlier said Rs 2,000 notes in circulation will end corruption, but now it is being withdrawn “in the name of ending corruption.”
Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan hit back at Mr Kejriwal, saying the Delhi Chief Minister is “selling lies”. Mr Pradhan said the Rs 2,000 notes will remain valid and the “educated Chief Minister is again out to sell lies”.
The RBI’s decision to withdraw Rs 2,000 notes from circulation will not have any “perceptible effect” on the economy as any such notes returned will be replaced by either equivalent cash in lower denomination notes or a deposit, former NITI Aayog vice chairman Arvind Panagariya said.
Responding to the Congress’s jibe, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad reminded old currency notes used to be withdrawn from circulation even during the United Progressive Alliance government’s time.
“We would like to remind our Congress friends that even during the rule of Manmohan Singh, old currency notes used to be taken off circulation. Hence they (Congress) must not call it notebandi (notes ban),” Mr Prasad said.
The Rs 2,000 notes will continue to be valid even after the exchange or deposit deadline of September 30. People can deposit or exchange the high-value notes for lower denomination ones up to Rs 20,000 at a time.
The RBI said banks will exchange and take Rs 2,000 notes as deposits. The RBI’s 19 regional offices will also serve as exchange points till September 30. The total value of Rs 2,000 notes has fallen from Rs 6.73 lakh crore, or 37 per cent in circulation, at its peak in March 2018 to Rs 3.62 lakh crore, or 11 per cent in circulation, in March this year.
The RBI said one of the reasons why the Rs 2,000 note is being withdrawn is that this denomination is not commonly used for transactions.