The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrated the first anniversary of note ban
on Wednesday as “anti-black money day”, with Union ministers addressing press conferences in several cities and also launching signature campaigns that supported the Narendra Modi government’s efforts at curbing black money.
Several of the Opposition parties responded with protests to mark the day as “black day”. Congress and the Left parties held protests across the country. The Trinamool Congress
organised protests across West Bengal. Rashtriya Janata Dal held protests in Bihar, Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) led Opposition protests in Tamil Nadu.
Several Opposition leaders either wore black bands or turned their Twitter
display pictures to black. BJP
ally Shiv Sena joined the protests in Maharashtra. Shiv Sena performed a ‘shradh’, or death rites, at Ramkund, a sacred bathing ghat on the Godavari, in Nashik, in front of enlarged pictures of the scrapped notes.
While the dates for the winter session of Parliament are yet to be announced, it became apparent that the issue was all set to be discussed as and when the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha are convened. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, headed by Congress’ M Veerappa Moily, is scheduled to meet on Thursday where senior finance ministry officials will brief the panel on the demonetisation
decision and its ramifications. The committee is slated to meet again on November 16, and has to submit its report in the winter session.
In the political arena, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter
in the morning to “bow” to the people of India for supporting the measures taken by the government against corruption and black money. The PM also posted short films on his Twitter
handle to showcase the benefits it brought and said Indians won a decisive battle against black money.
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi interacted with traders in Surat, took part in a candlelight vigil and also took to social media to criticise demonetisation.
The Congress, however, was left a tad embarrassed when one of Rahul Gandhi’s tweets slamming note ban
carried the picture of ex-serviceman Nandalal.
The retired soldier had become somewhat of an icon for anti-demonetisation
campaign in 2016 after a website had published a photograph of him distraught and standing in an ATM queue. However, the man told television channels on Wednesday that he supported any step, including note ban, which curbed corruption in the country. BJP
chief Amit Shah, who was in Junagadh in Gujarat leading a signature campaign in support of ‘anti-black money day’, tweeted the ex-serviceman’s soundbite. Shah tagged Rahul Gandhi in the tweet and said the soundbite exposed the lies of the Congress.
In an article in the UK’s Financial Times, Rahul Gandhi accused the PM of “robbing” the country of its economic prowess and “damaging” India by converting people’s anger due to joblessness into “communal hatred”. The Congress Vice President said in the article that “the Chinese cat has firmly caught the global manufacturing mouse”.
Rahul Gandhi said China’s global monopoly on blue-collar jobs is a fundamental challenge to other nation states, since it has created millions of disenfranchised and angry workers "who express their frustration at the ballot box — whether in votes for Mr Modi, Brexit, or Donald Trump". He said China creates 50,000 jobs a day, while in Modi’s India only 500 jobs are created daily. But, he said, “this advantage comes with a brutal cost — China’s people are not free to speak, to dissent or to question and those that do are swiftly and severely punished. This is not a model India should emulate."
In New Delhi, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala alleged there were several incidents in the run up to the note ban
announcement which suggested that BJP
leaders had foreknowledge of the move. He pointed to instances where BJP
leaders were allegedly caught with large amounts of currency, or where money was deposited in bank accounts on the eve of demonetisation
or plots of land purchased.
In Madurai, DMK’s working president MK Stalin led an opposition protest march. He dismissed speculation, which has come in the wake of the PM’s meeting with DMK patriarch MK Karunanidhi on Monday, about any alliance between his party and the BJP.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who was in Chennai, also dismissed the speculation. Sitharaman, who led a signature campaign to support ‘anti-black money day’, said the PM meeting Karunanidhi was healthy political culture.
In Lucknow, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said the people of the state would teach BJP
a lesson in the forthcoming urban body elections. In Patna, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi took potshots at the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) over their protest against demonetisation
saying people fond of black money were observing "black day”.
Apart from Sitharaman in Chennai, other ministers who addressed press conferences and public meetings were Suresh Prabhu in Jaipur, Nitin Gadkari in Mumbai, Prakash Javadekar in Hyderabad, Kiren Rijiju in Itanagar and Jayant Sinha in Kolkata. Goa CM Manohar Parrikar said demonetisation
had struck a blow to anti-India forces.