Navjot Singh Sidhu, the Punjab minister and the Congress’s star campaigner, continued with his spate of strikes on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Campaigning for the Congress in Gujarat, Sidhu on Wednesday took swipes at PM Modi citing demonetization, zero-balance bank account opening scheme and the government’s push for yoga.
“America ne 100 dollar bana diya, England ne 50-pound bana diya lekin tumne 500 ka kaatke, 1000 ka kaatke 2000 ka gulabi kar diya…Rashtrabhakti ki baat karte ho (the US introduced $100, England introduced 50 pounds but you withdrew currency denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 and introduced Rs 2,000 notes instead, and you talk of patriotism),” stated Sidhu at an election rally in Ahmedabad.
He was suggesting to November 2016 decision of the government announcing demonetization of high-value currencies of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000. The decision had, in effect, withdrawn about 86 percent of the money in circulation at the time.
The government defended demonetization as an important step for course correction in the Indian economy. The Opposition, on the other hand, examined the government saying that notes ban decision led to huge job loss and caused damage to the informal economy.
Sidhu, who switched sides from the BJP to the Congress ahead of 2017 Punjab Assembly election, aimed PM Modi over jan dhan bank accounts for which the BJP-led government ran a campaign under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) to bring even the poorest section of society to the ambit of banking.
“Is it your patriotism Mr. Narendra Modi that people who have empty stomachs are being made to perform yoga? The stomach is empty and people are being made to do yoga, people’s pockets are empty but are made to open bank accounts,” stated the Congress leader referring to the government’s campaign for opening zero-balance bank accounts.
PM Modi, in his public speeches and interviews, has claimed that since the PMJDY was launched in August 2014, the scheme has ensured that every family has access to banks. The Opposition has, however, summoned the scheme a failure.