New Delhi: 

Congress president Sonia Gandhi sent across a scorching message to the central government on the third anniversary of its demonetisation initiative today, promising to ensure that the people neither forgive nor forget the “Tughlaqi blunder” that had brought the nation’s economy to its knees.

In a statement issued today, Mrs Gandhi termed demonetisation as an appropriate metaphor for the BJP’s “ill-conceived” governance model. “It was a preposterous measure fuelled by false propaganda, which did untold damage to innocent and trusting countrymen,” Mrs Gandhi said, claiming that the country was still reeling under its impact three years on.

The Narendra Modi government had demonetised currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 through a surprise announcement on the night of November 8, 2016, throwing normal life out of gear and crowding banks with people desperate to get their currency exchanged for fresh notes.

Although opposition leaders and economists such as Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee termed demonetisation as a futile measure that would only weight down the country’s economy and inconvenience the poor, the centre remained firm on its stand that it would help wipe out black money, deter counterfeiters and clamp down on terrorism as well as Left-extremism. It was also suggested that the initiative – while painful in the short term – could help transform India into a digital economy.

“Three years later, Prime Minister Modi has failed spectacularly on all these counts,” Mrs Gandhi said in her statement today. “The RBI has confirmed that 99.3% of all the devalued currency notes have been re-deposited with zero windfall gain to speak of… terror and Naxal activities have actually seen an increase after demonetisation, as per the government’s own published data. The currency in circulation has actually seen a 22% increase over pre-demonetisation level.”

The Congress chief claimed that demonetisation had, instead, wiped out over one crore jobs, taking the country’s unemployment rate to a 45-year high. “It also shaved two full percentage points off GDP growth, bringing down India’s international rating from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’,” the statement read, adding that demonetisation has now been widely acknowledged as a “herculean blunder” and taught across the world as a “cautionary tale of what governments should not do”.

Mrs Gandhi went on to accuse PM Modi of not taking responsibility, or even acknowledging, the “faux pas” she believed had claimed over a hundred lives, sounded the death knell for India’s medium and small businesses, snatched the livelihoods of farmers, and reduced millions of families to the very margins of poverty.

“The Prime Minister and his colleagues have stopped speaking about demonetisation since 2017, hoping that the nation will forget. Unfortunately for them, the Congress will ensure that neither the nation nor history forgives or forgets,” the party chief promised in the statement.

(With inputs from PTI)