Straws in the wind
Undeterred by jibes and taunts, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is repeating his allegation of corruption against the Prime Minister in meeting after meeting. As the Prime Minister and his men pooh-pooh the Gandhi scion but cautiously avoid straightaway denying the charges, the size of the crowd attending Rahul Gandhi’s meetings continues to swell. The BJP has now started reacting to Rahul. Shahnawaz Hussain says Rahul is making ‘uncalled for rhetoric’ only to weaken the fight against black money. In BJP-ruled Rajasthan where the AAP is not a political force, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal draws a crowd of over five thousand people who say’ yes’ to Kejriwal’s question whether they believe in the charges against the PM.”
Meanwhile, the Centre’s agencies are busy raiding premises of senior bureaucrats and their relations. As a sequel to such a raid, the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary has been suspended. Senior bank officials are also being arrested regularly for supplying wads of new notes to businessmen or their agents. All these are welcome steps. But is this the all-out ‘war on black money’ that the PM said he was unleashing? These men are small fry. The big fry are not being touched at all. The Government has not come out with the list of big black money hoarders who have been booked. No action has been taken against any corporate boss who has swindled public money by borrowing from banks and not repaying either the principal or the interest. Instead of pressurizing these dishonest people who are guilty of defrauding the banks. The Government is writing off these ‘bad’ loans and recapitalizing the banks.
On the other hand, several tea gardens and jute mills have been closed because they are unable to pay their workers. Many small-scale industries have been forced to down shutters, in West Bengal and elsewhere. Trade and commerce has been hit. The publishing industry has been badly affected by demonetization. In turn all this is having a negative impact on the State’s revenue. As days pass, the people from all walks of life are feeling the pinch. The initial public impression that demonetization was a good step to rid the economy of black money and black money operators is giving place to disillusionment and bitterness as the people continue to face restrictions in withdrawing their hard-earned money from the banks.
Quite apart from the likely effect of demonetization on the ensuing State Assembly elections, the long-term effect on national economy is causing worry in all quarters. An already recession-hit economy has been further damaged. People are losing jobs. The initial feeling of euphoria that the saffron camp wanted to whip up following demonetization is giving place to resentment and anger. This is what should keep the Government on the tenterhooks.