NEW DELHI: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday made a scathing attack on the BJP government on the second anniversary of the Centre's controversial demonetisation move, which he alleged was a ''carefully planned criminal financial scam'' to help PM Narendra Modi's 'suit-booted friends''.
Criticising the notes ban move, the Congress chief said it was a ''planned brutal conspiracy" and a "shrewd scheme" to convert the black money of PM Narendra Modi's select friends.
The Gandhi scion took to Twitter and said that there was nothing innocent about this "scam" and claimed that drawing any other meaning out of it was an insult to the intelligence of the nation.
"Note ban was a premeditated brutal conspiracy. This scam was a shrewd scheme to convert the black money of Prime Minister's suit-booted friends to white. Nothing was innocent in this scam. Drawing any other meaning of it would be an insult of the intelligence of the nation," Gandhi tweeted in Hindi.
नोटबंदी सोच-समझ कर किया गया एक क्रूर षड्यंत्र था। यह घोटाला प्रधानमंत्री के सूट-बूट वाले मित्रों का काला-धन सफेद करने की एक धूर्त स्कीम थी।
इस कांड में कुछ भी मासूम नहीं था| इसका कोई भी दूसरा अर्थ निकालना राष्ट्र की समझ का अपमान है|
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) November 8, 2018
The extremely critical remarks from the Congress chief came shortly after senior party leader and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a scathing assessment of the demonetisation exercise.
Singh said the "scars and wounds" it caused are getting more visible with time and the decision's second anniversary is a day to remember how "economic misadventures" can roil the nation.
Rahul's party colleagues on Thursday alleged note ban was the "biggest scam" of independent India that should be probed and asserted that the people will punish Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his "unmindful decision".
Congress's spokesperson Anand Sharma, at a press conference, alleged that demonetisation was "a big money laundering project", NPAs have increased sharply, the banking system was struggling, and now the Modi government was bent on "snatching" the contingency reserves of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, while speaking to reporters, asked why the BJP government did not issue any advertisement or congratulate people on the second anniversary of demonetisation as they had done in the past.
He alleged that demonetisation was the "biggest scam" of independent India and that the black money of several people was converted to white through the move.
"What did the country get, was black money found, was counterfeit currency recovered, did it stop Naxalism and terrorism, instead the Indian economy suffered a loss of Rs 3 lakh crore," he claimed.
"Time has come for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take responsibility for this destruction and apologise...Time has come that the scam of notebandi is probed and those guilty are caught. The country will not forget, it remembers and is ready to hit back with the might of its votes," Surjewala said.
Sharma announced that the Congress will hold a nationwide protest on Friday to mark the second anniversary of demonetisation.
In his remarks, he slammed the government for the November 8, 2016 move, alleging it was an "arbitrary decision of a prime minister which led to economic disaster, misery, pain, deaths of a large number of our citizens, loss of crores and crores of jobs, hurting the poor, hurting the farmers, hurting the daily wage earners, industrial labourers and housewives."
He said Prime Minister Modi gave four reasons for demonetisation - targeting black money, corruption, terror financing and counterfeit currency.
All the four reasons given by the prime minister for demonetisation had proven to be false, he said, adding that 99.3 per cent of the money has been returned to the RBI.
"The prime minister remains arrogant, he is in denial, he shall not apologise, the only thing which can happen, which will happen, is that the people will punish him," he asserted.
He said BJP must know time has come for accountability.
Sharma also alleged that all those who were caught with the newly-printed 2000-rupee notes in crores following demonetisation happened to be those associated with the BJP.
"My direct charge is that it (demonetisation) was also a big money laundering project. BJP's key people were privy to it, the Cabinet was not, and the RBI was not," he said.
He said the Congress sympathises with the RBI as they were forced into it.
"My words should not be misunderstood. Prime Minister is less than literate in economics. He is less knowledgeable and less literate in history. So, he makes his own history, he makes his own economics,'' he said.
The attack from Congress party came after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley made a strong defence, saying demonetisation resulted in the formalisation of the economy and increased tax base, with the government earmarking more resources for the poor and infrastructure development.
(With Agency Inputs)