- Notes ban was "ethically the right choice": Arun Jaitley
- Notes ban a "monumental management failure": Congress' Manmohan Singh
- PM Modi banned 500 and 1,000-rupee notes on November 8 last year
"The Congress made a monumental blunder," Mr Jaitley told NDTV as he campaigned in Varanasi. "If the country did well in surgical strikes, economy is doing well, why should the Congress question it?"
He said "remonetisation is happening, the economy is picking up...and panic by some people is highly exaggerated," predicting an 8 per cent growth in the agricultural sector this year.
"Monumental management failure" was how former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh of the Congress, also a renowned economist, had described the demonetisation announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November last year, predicting a 2 per cent decline in the country's Gross Domestic Product or GDP. In the UP elections, the Congress and other parties have pegged their attack on the BJP in the elections around PM Modi's ban on 500 and 1000 rupee notes that wiped out 86 per cent of the money in circulation, and resulted in a huge cash crunch.
On Tuesday, the first official data from the Central Statistical Organisation or CSO estimated a 7 per cent growth in the October- December quarter, significantly higher than the estimates of experts and analysts. India has retained its position as the world's fastest growing economy.
"Well known intellectuals from Harvard and Oxford, who have been at key positions in the Indian economic system, had said the GDP would go down by 2 per cent, some others said it would go down by 4 per cent," PM Modi said at public rally in UP, adding, "hard work is much more powerful than Harvard."
Mr Jaitley dismissed the Congress' alliance with chief minister Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party in UP as one "born out of nervousness". The Union minister scoffed at the possibility of a hung assembly in the state, where the assembly election is seen a bellwether for the 2019 general elections.
"The psephologists are confused when they say hung assembly. I have not seen a hung verdict in a long time," Mr Jaitley said. Focussing on issues, he said, has helped the party organise its campaign. "The social coalition supporting us is large. We have succeeded in identifying a poor section. We will continue to support trade and reforms. We are confident of a victory and reforms process will go on," the finance minister said.