- PM Modi has said notes ban-related problems will end by Dec 30
- Will support him till then: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar
- Given cash crunch, is demonetization worth it, asks his party
"I am not the sort of person who commits support in haste and then withdraws it," said Mr Kumar on Tuesday, "let us wait till December 30 and then we will analyze it."
A section of his party, the Janata Dal United or JDU, has reportedly been irked by the Chief Minister's backing of demonetization at a time when 15 opposition parties have combined in parliament to accuse the government of risking the economy with its sudden move and plunging the poor and rural India into a cash crunch.
"Has it been worth the goal for which it was undertaken? So we are waiting till 30th December because the Prime Minister in his speech had said that 'wait for 50 days and normalcy will be restored'. That has been our position," said Pawan Verma of the JDU in Delhi today to remind the government that it's on the clock.
The 50-day window was sought by the PM in an emotional speech days after he announced the abrupt cancellation of high-denomination notes to flush out black money and penalize its holders. The outlawed notes must be turned into banks by December 30. But already, 80% of the notes have been submitted, suggesting that virtually all the money will return to banks, partially aided by money-laundering.
The notes that were cancelled formed 86% of the currency in circulation. Their withdrawal created a massive vacuum of which only a small chunk has been filled with the new bills being printed.
More problematically for him than the below-surface rumbling within his own party is the criticism of the notes ban made with typical tetchiness by his ally, Lalu Yadav. The differences between them over demonetization add to the stretch-marks of a partnership that regularly offers samples of its improbability. A marker of how serious the divide seemed to be getting came from the Chief Minister delivering a closed-door address not to his own but Lalu's legislators, reassuring that his support for the currency reboot is not a giveaway of an inching back to the BJP, with whom he shared a nearly two-decade-long alliance.
As Mr Kumar's party makes it clear that its support for the PM has an expiration date, Lalu has summoned a meeting of his party on Saturday, where he is expected to finalize a series of street protests against Mr Modi over demonetization.
Meanwhile, the BJP, in a somewhat transparent attempt to keep Mr Kumar's support, suggested that if he turns on the notes ban, "it will be seen as a bending to Lalu," according to the party's Mangal Pandey.
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