Pawar slams Modi for dragging Indira into note ban debate

NCP president Sharad Pawar today hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for dragging Indira Gandhi into the demonetisation debate, asking why other premiers after her, including Atal Bihari Vajpayee, did not take the note ban decision.

The NCP veteran said Modi was trying to project himself as a bigger leader than Gandhi by making such a statement.

"According to him (Modi), Indira Gandhi did not go in for demonetisation as suggested by her Finance Minister Y B Chavan. So even PMs after her, including Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and even Finance Minister in the BJP regime Yashwant Sinha or the then Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani did not take such a decision," Pawar told a press meet here.

Modi had yesterday trained guns at the former PM Indira Gandhi, claiming that she overlooked a suggestion in 1971 for demonetisation by the then Finance Minister Y B Chavan.

Pawar said, "It is not right to say nothing has happened in the country in past 70 years. In the 70 years, Congress has not been in power all the time. Modi himself was chief minister of a state for 13 years."

"All leaders including Pandit (Jawaharlal) Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Vajpayee, Morarji Desai and Charan Singh have contributed to the country's development. How can one say nothing has happened in 70 years and development is taking place only since last two years," he said.

Pawar said he had supported the decision of demonetisation as it was good for eradication of black money. But, its implementation has been flawed and the central government is responsible for the hardships faced by the common man.

"The central government is guilty of not putting in place an alternative system like pumping in enough lower denomination notes after the scrapping of high denomination currency notes," he said.

He said when people are standing in queues for their own money, several people have been caught with bundles of new currency notes in searches across the country.

"From where have people got this amount of cash ... It is from the banks which are under the control of central government," he claimed.
The NCP supremo said agriculture sector has been badly

affected as farm produce is not getting a good price and small scale industries and labourers were also hit.

Claiming that in Uttar Pradesh, potato prices have crashed to Rs 6-7 per kg from Rs 18-20 per kg in last one month, he said, "No steps have been taken to ease the hardships faced by the people."

Asked if the Opposition plans an agitation against the government over demonetisation, Pawar said, "If necessary, agitation can be launched, but people will suffer because of such protests." He warned that the long-term impact of the decision would be lay-off of employees by corporates.

The former Union Agriculture Minister was also critical of the curbs imposed on the district cooperative in the wake of demonetisation.

"They were not given new currency and not allowed to accept old notes. I am being told that just because district cooperative banks are held by politicians such a negative approach was adopted. It shows the central government's attitude towards the district banks and credit societies which are the backbone of rural economy," said Pawar.

He also referred to the negative reaction of District Central Cooperative Bank Association (DCCB) head Dilip Sanghi, who served as a minister in Modi government in Gujarat. "Even Sanghi who was minister when Narendra Modi was Chief Minister has criticised the decision of the central government to impose restrictions on DCCBs post-demonetisation," said Pawar.

He rejected the BJP's contention that its success in the local body polls in Maharashtra was an endorsement of demonetisation. "We know more than them how to win local body polls. Only now we don't have that power," Pawar said.

The NCP leader said he had supported demonetisation as an action against black money. "It is like saying that the operation was done but the patient died because of lack of post-operative care," he said.

On being criticised for sharing dais with Modi, Pawar shot back saying, "Is Modi PM of Pakistan?".

"In a democratic set up, one has to interact with leaders cutting across party lines. Didn't the Congress delegation meet the PM yesterday?" he asked.
Pawar, who served as Defence Minister from June 1991 to

March 1993, also voiced concern over terrorist attacks on security forces in Jammu and Kashmir and criticised the government for its "failure" in tackling the situation along borders.

"Between February 4 and December 9 this year, there have been 162 attacks by terrorists out of which 104 have been on security forces. As many as 57 jawans and officers have been martyred. This has never happened before," he claimed.

He said the people in the border areas have been living a difficult life. They have to stay awake all night. The central government has failed to tackle this situation. "When in Opposition, Modi had criticised the then government of going soft on terrorism and people of the country felt that the '56 inch chest' would do wonders if voted to power," he added.

Pawar said the need of the hour is to strengthen the security forces and their morale. "After the surgical strikes, people were made to understand that terrorism will end, but infact, there have been more incidents (of terror strikes)," he said.

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