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In a scathing attack on the Congress, which is celebrating the first anniversary of demonetisation as a 'black day' today, Union minister Smriti Irani said that the note ban decision was "definitely a tragedy for the Gandhi family". She was apparently referring to an article by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in the 'Financial Times' in which he termed demonetisation as a "tragedy". "I think that demonetisation is definitely a tragedy for the Gandhi family which is now synonymous with the word corruption," Irani alleged. The information and broadcasting minister was addressing a press conference at the UP BJP headquarters here. "It is definitely a tragedy for the gentleman who had wanted to withdraw Rs 4,000 just for show, and then took hiatuses in overseas destinations unknown to many Indians," she said in an apparent jibe at Rahul Gandhi. The Union minister claimed that demonetisation was definitely a tragedy for "Mr Gandhi" as election after election had been lost under his leadership. Continuing her tirade, she said the Congress was saying that Rahul Gandhi will be the president of the party soon but changed its tune after surveys and polls by TV channels suggested that losses in Gujarat and Himachal polls were imminent. "So, yes personally Mr Gandhi must be facing a lot of trouble internally and that is why he ....(is) shooting from the shoulder of the prime minister," she said. Irani's comments came against the backdrop of the Congress vice president accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "robbing" the country of its economic prowess and "damaging" India by converting people's anger due to joblessness into "communal hatred". In his article in the 'Financial Times' on the first anniversary of demonetisation, which he termed as a "tragedy", Rahul Gandhi said the livelihood of millions of honest Indians were destroyed due to this "thoughtless act" of the prime minister. "Modi's reforms have robbed India of its economic prowess," he alleged, adding that demonetisation had wiped out 2 per cent of GDP and "ruined" the lives of millions of workers. On Goods and Services Tax, Irani said, that in the GST Council, the state governments are also there along with the Centre. "All the decisions are taken in one voice. Whenever there is any issue at the regional level or in any sector, then the council takes a positive stand," she said. Asked whether the Gujarat Assembly elections will be a refrendum on GST, she said, "Whenever Gujarat goes to polls, some organisations and people linked with the Congress, they come with such speculation. These are just speculation. It is nothing new for us. The voters go with the BJP everytime. The results will show that the BJP gets votes for development in Gujarat." She said that the Congress has already conceded defeat in Himachal Pradesh. "When the Congress party does not have faith in its own leader, then how can the people of Gujarat repose their faith in the Congress. This is not possible," she said. On whether Patidar leader Hardik Patel and others were working as the B team of the Congress, Smriti Irani said, "They are working for the past one and one-and-half years. This is not new, and our organisation in Gujarat has already alerted the public about this. These leaders who are today siding with the Congress had earlier from public platform announced that they had nothing to do with the Congress. Their U-turn vindicates our stand." Irani thanked the people of the country for extending co-operation in the fight against black money and corruption. She said that the Benami Property Act has been implemented by the BJP government at the Centre after 28 years. Replying to a question, Irani said that under the leadership of Narendra Modi, the elections in Gujarat have always been fought on the development plank. In 2014, the Lok Sabha elections were also contested on the issue of development, she said. "Before May 2014, the Supreme Court had asked the then Congress government in the Centre to constitute a SIT against black money. The order was not implemented by the Congress government.
In fact, in the first Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the decision to constitute SIT was taken," she said. Elaborating about demonetisation, the Union minister said, "Last year, the currency which was in circulation was Rs 17.77 lakh crores, which has now redcued by almost Rs 3.89 lakh crores. Information about suspicious transactions has been shared by the banks with the government. Last year the number of suspicious transactions was 61,361, while in the past one year it has increased to 3,61,214." She further stated that other financial institutions also share information about suspicious transactions. Last year the number of such transactions was 40,333, while in the past one year, it has increased to 94,836. "During income tax searches, there has been a jump of 38 per cent in undisclosed income found. The self-assessment of taxes has gone up by 34.25 per cent. As many as 2.24 lakh shell companies have been closed and agencies are investigating them. More than 1 crore labourers have come under ambit of employee provident fund. Almost 56 lakh new tax payers have filed returns. These statistics of last one year show the success of demonetisation," the Union minister said.
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