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31 Dec 2016

BJD's U-turn on Modi's cash wash

Subhashish Mohanty, TT, Bhubaneswar, Dec. 30: The after-effect of demonetisation has made Prime Minister Narendra Modi lose one more supporter of his note-ban drive - Naveen's Patnaik's BJD.
Angry over the effect of cash wash on the agriculture sector, BJD vice-president and spokesperson Surya Narayan Patro today said: "Demonetisation has destroyed the rural economy. It's a complete failure. People in the rural areas are the worst affected. They don't have money to buy anything."
Taking a dig at the Modi government, he said: "The Centre introduced demonetisation without taking adequate precautionary measures. Business in the rural areas has come to a standstill."
His statement comes at a time when chief minister Naveen Patnaik is being effusively praised by the BJP central leadership for his support to demonetisation.
Patro's statement assumes significance as it is usually believed to be the party's official line that has the endorsement of BJD chief Naveen.
Not only Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but also central ministers, including Union finance minister Arun Jaitely, Union home minister Rajnath Singh and coal minister Piyus Goyal, had praised Naveen's pro-demonetisation stance.
Naveen is part of a chief ministers' committee, headed by his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Chandrababu Naidu, to promote digital payment system for the sake of fiscal transparency, financial inclusion and also prepare a roadmap to follow post-demonetisation. Chief secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi had attended a meeting on the issue two days ago.
Patro also questioned about the digital payment system. "People in the rural belt are illiterate. They don't have the required knowledge about Internet banking. There is likelihood of their accounts being hacked."
Stating that earlier the BJD had supported the move because it believed that the step would arrest corruption and check black money, he said: "But, it has finally failed to serve the purpose."
Not only Patro, other BJD leaders, too, have also started targeting the NDA government on the issue. "We have been given instructions by the party to take up the issue at the rural level and expose the BJP government on this. We cannot afford to ignore the issue when campaign for the panchayat polls are in full swing," said a BJD MLA.
Stating that the BJD was always against black money and corruption, another BJD spokesperson Samir Dash said: "We are very much disappointed with the demonetisation process. Without taking adequate measures, they introduced the scheme. The working class, particularly the daily labourers, have been badly hit. The people in the rural areas have also been hit."
Today, even state government officials admitted that the demonetisation had hit revenue collection. Excise department secretary Bishnupada Sethy said the collection during the year had declined to the tune of Rs 20 crore on account of demonetisation and the retail liquor business had declined by 40 to 50 per cent.
Addressing a media conference here today, Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha said: "If the Modi government wants to bring back black money to the exchequer, he has the list and he can do it. What has prevented him from doing this? The entire economy of the country is on the brink of disaster."
Questioning the state government's role, Jha said: "While people are facing problems, why is the Naveen government not reacting to the issue? There must be some reasons behind it. People must know."
Jha questioned Naveen's silence on the charges of corruption that the Congress had brought against the Prime Minister. "Rahul ji has brought charges against Modiji based on the dairy of the Sahara group. The entire nation is debating on the issue, we wonder why Naveen is silent on it?"
He said the BJP leadership had prior intimation about the demonetisation move. "Its party unit in Calcutta had deposited Rs 3 crore in a bank. The Ahmedabad Co-operative Bank had got a deposit of Rs 500 crore. The banks got nearly Rs 3 lakh crore deposit."
"The demonetisation should be probed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court," he said while demanding Modi's resignation "as he has pushed the nation to the brink of disaster".

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