In an apparent bid at transparency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked all MPs and MLAs of the BJP to provide details of their bank transactions between November 8 -- when demonetisation came into effect -- and December 31, the day the drive ends.
But opposition parties lambasted the move as meaningless, demanding that Modi ask his legislators to provide details of all bank transactions for six months prior to November 8.
Modi's instruction came at a BJP Parliamentary Party meeting held here on Tuesday. Informed sources said he asked Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmakers to submit their bank transaction details to party President Amit Shah by January 1, 2017.
The move, seen as an effort to blunt opposition criticism that BJP members knew in advance about the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bank notes, was instead dubbed by the opposition as an attempt to fool the people.
"This is a cosmetic attempt to pull off another PR spin to fool the people of India," Congress leader Sanjay Jha told IANS. "Why not make public all cash deposits/withdrawals prior to that period? Why isn't Modi declaring the source of electoral funds of the BJP during 2014 elections," he asked.
Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan, while reiterating the demand that disclosures should extend to the period prior to November 8, wondered why the information was being submitted to the BJP chief. "The information should come out in the public domain and not just be submitted to Amit Shah," he said.
The opposition charge is based largely on a sudden surge in deposits at scheduled commercial banks in the second half of September -- a little over a month before the demonetisation announcement -- to the extent of about Rs 3.5 lakh crore. The surge was preceded by a slight drop in deposits in the first half of September.
The government has said the surge was a result of the then ongoing Income Disclosure Scheme (IDS) and payouts of Seventh Pay Commission arrears. However, the amount involved in the scheme and arrears was not enough to account for the total surge, says the opposition.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal also criticised the Prime Minister and the BJP President over the move to disclose banking transactions between November 8 and December 31.
"So now BJP MP/MLAs will give their bank details to Amit Shah and he (Amit Shah) will check black money," the Delhi Chief Minister tweeted.
Attacking the BJP, AAP leader Ashutosh said: "It is the biggest farce one can ever imagine. If the BJP is serious, they should make their transaction details public and give it to the Income Tax Department."
"What is the purpose of submitting them to Amit Shah," he wondered.
Janata Dal-United (JD-U) Rajya Sabha Member Ali Anwar told IANS: "First thing, the BJP must give details of the bank transactions prior to November 8."
He said: "Our party has exposed the land deals of the BJP in 22 districts of Bihar (in the months before demonetisation). And we shall keep on opposing the wrongdoings of the BJP."
However, the BJP leaders welcomed the move, saying this will only enhance the level of 'transparency'.
"It is a directive of the Prime Minister to his party MPs. It is an internal matter. But the instructions have a solemn purpose.
I think, like charity, honesty should also begin at home," Union Minister Babul Supriyo said.
Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy tweeted, "All BJP MPs to submit to the District President their transactions from 8th Nov to 31st Dec on 1st Jan,2017. Transparency is the key."
BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri told IANS that move was aimed at reposing credentials of the leaders among the masses while Kirit Somaiya said, "It is appreciated."
But suspended BJP MP Kirti Azad was critical of the move.
"They should ask bank transactions of big businessman and traders. I don't understand why they are asking it? They can get all the details of their own as banks are under them," Azad told IANS.
At the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting earlier in the day, Shah reportedly told party MPs to motivate traders in panchayats, municipalities and other local bodies falling in their constituencies to shift to cashless transactions.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)