On demonetisation’s second anniversary, reactions from the BJP are muted and defensive, a far cry from celebrating its first anniversary as anti-black money day.

New Delhi: From thunderously hailing it as the Modi government’s landmark decision to a subdued, barely-there and at best, defensive, reaction on its second anniversary, demonetisation now seems like the proverbial albatross around the BJP’s neck.

Thursday, which marks two years of demonetisation, saw no celebrations, aggressive promotions or any attempt to mark the day by the Modi government as well as the BJP.

The Prime Minister, otherwise proactive on Twitter, chose to not push out a post on the day, which highly-placed sources in the party said was a carefully thought-out move.

Sources said the party didn’t want to “proactively talk about demonetisation, and its statements on it are more of a reaction to the opposition’s stand”.

In stark contrast, the first anniversary of demonetisation last year was celebrated as ‘anti-black money day’ by the BJP government, with Modi tweeting: “125 crore Indians fought a decisive battle and won – #AntiBlackMoneyDay.”


Also read: Why demonetisation was both Whatsapp-style jaadu economics and Kautilyan politics


BJP reaction a response to opposition jibes

The opposition Thursday launched an aggressive attack on the note ban, with several leaders, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, providing a scathing critique of the move.

The reactions from the BJP appeared to be defensive and a retaliation to the criticism.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley clarified that the real objective of demonetisation wasn’t “confiscation of currency” but to get it into the formal economy.

“The impact of demonetisation has been felt on the collection of personal income tax,” he said in a blog post. “Its collections were higher in Financial Year 2018-19 (till 31-10-2018) compared to the previous year by 20.2%.”

The BJP also launched a #CorruptCongressFearsDemo on social media but a flurry of its tweets showed it was on the backfoot in wake of the Congress onslaught.

In the tweets, the BJP goes on to, instead, ask the Congress 10 questions, including why it fears a “bold move”.

“It is evident that the move, which had initially given us a lot of political capital, has gradually started backfiring on us,” said a source in the BJP. “With elections due soon, we don’t want demonetisation to be a key conversation, given it can hurt us.”


Also read: Two years after demonetisation, purchases without receipts continue to stoke black money


Vanishing from the narrative

When the Modi government announced demonetisation on 8 November 2016, the BJP attempted to portray it as a reflection of the Prime Minister’s strong and decisive leadership.

In his 2017 Independence Day speech, Modi made sure to mention the note ban.

“When demonetisation was announced, the world was surprised. People thought this was the end of Modi,” he had said. “But the way our 125 crore countrymen showed patience and faith, we were able to take one step after another in our drive against corruption.”

It had also found mention in his monthly radio address, Mann Ki Baat, on more than one occasion.

Tellingly, however, demonetisation has not found a mention in the PM’s key speeches this year and taking a cue from him, his government has maintained a low-key approach to it even on the second anniversary.

Sources in the party say unlike the poll campaign in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections that took place just after demonetisation, the assembly polls due year-end and the 2019 Lok Sabha polls are unlikely to see any overt mention of the initiative by party leaders.

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  1. The credibility of the RBI – globally respected as one of the world’s top central banks – has been collateral damage. The abiding image is of an army of gnomes bent double over counting machines, still working their way through 15.44 trillion of the darn stuff – khatam hi nahin hota hai yeh kaam …

  2. Very short sighted and foolish move by the PM for gain in UP assembly election .. SInce people have realised that only harm has been caused by demo. Wiped out 2percent of our econo my and loss of millions of job’s in informal sector and agriculture and rural economy who run bussiness on cash.. Modi government is now trying to hide from it by not talking. .. but citizens are not foolish and still remember the hardship we face and people killed due to it… it will be shown in the ballot box.

  3. “Finance Minister Arun Jaitley clarified that the real objective of demonetisation wasn’t “confiscation of currency” but to get it into the formal economy.”

    What Mr Jaitley isn’t telling is, the STATED OBJECTIVE of the government was that BLACK money won’t come back into circulation; out of fear, the hoarders of black money will destroy it. In the initial few days it did happen that way: we heard news of torn up currency notes dumped in waste bins, or seen floating on some river.

    Very soon that fear disappeared, possibly by the surreptitious encouragement of bank officers, and ALL THE BLACK MONEY got deposited in banks. Not just that, even COUNTERFEIT money got deposited in banks. As a result MORE money got deposited than was EXPUNGED!!!

    Now all that sinful money is rightfully sitting in banks, earning 4% interest in savings accounts, or even 7-8% interest in FDs. This additional interest payment is added burden on banks. But why aren’t they thrilled about it, lending out more monies to businesses at 13-14% interest, making a cool buck on these surprise deposits? They aren’t because they are scared. Their managers have been jailed. Businesses aren’t asking for new monies because demonetization and GST have upset their business models and they are finding it difficult to service even their old loans.

    Because they cannot pay up interest on old loans, they are under threat of being branded as NPAs. They want loans NOT FOR BUSINESS EXPANSION but to pay up huge interests that have been piling up on old loans.

    This is the sum total of adventurism called Modinomics. That’s why it’s subdued tom-tomming of it in the second year.

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