- Demonetisation "scam" aimed to help crony capitalists: Rahul Gandhi
- RBI revealed that most of the banned cash had returned to the system
- Notes ban exercise had cost the government Rs 8,000 crore
Demonetisation was not a mistake but a deliberate attack on citizens to help big businesses, Rahul Gandhi said on Thursday, stepping up his offensive against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government a day after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) revealed that most of the banned cash had returned to the system.
"Notebandi is nothing less than a huge scam," the Congress president said.
Asked whether like his party, he believed PM Modi should apologise to the nation, Mr Gandhi said: "You apologise for a mistake, but PM Modi did this deliberately. Demonetisation was made to finish you"f
On Wednesday, the central bank said in its annual report that over 99.30 per cent of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes banned by PM Modi in the November 2016 demonetisation have returned to the banking system.
The report says only a fraction of the currency - Rs 10, 720 crore - was left out of the system after the unprecedented move aimed at checking black money and corruption - an exercise that cost the government Rs 8,000 crore.
Mr Gandhi said the Prime Minister did an "irreversible damage" to the economy with the notes ban and he is answerable to the common man. "What Modi ji did was he took out money from your pocket and gave it to his crony capitalist friends"
He said PM Modi's "friends" turned black money into white after the note ban."For example, a cooperative bank in Gujarat whose Director is (BJP President) Amit Shah, exchanged Rs 700 crore in the wake of demonetization. It cannot even be called a jumla, it can be called a scam," he added.
The Congress chief said "the intention was very clear" and the exercise was to help 15-20 crony capitalists. "It was to help the richest, most corrupt change their money from black to white".
The Prime Minister had done what had not been done in the last 70 years, said Mr Gandhi. "He did it and devastated the economy (through demonetisation)."
He also took on the government on the Rafale fighter jet deal, questioning why an aircraft costing around Rs 520 crore was bought at Rs 1,600 crore.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, defending demonetization in his blog, said it led to formalisation of economy, more tax collection and higher growth.
Mr Jaitley asserted that the "larger purpose" of demonetisation was to move India from a tax non-compliant society to a tax-compliant society.