The demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes have sent the entire nation into a tizzy. The commoners got some problem – some of them serious. Suppose an accident victim is lying in the ICU of a private hospital and his or her relatives collected Rs 1 lakh from relatives and well-wishers for treatment. The family certainly has a bank account, but they like many others have balance in the account. There is nobody else to help with queuing in the bank to deposit the money and get new currency notes. And they don’t maintain a cheque book like many other lower and low middle class families. However, the breather in these cases is that pharmacies have been asked to accept the notes till November 11 midnight. Most ATMs were not working on November 11 and many people became penniless. Due to the lack of cash people preferred cheaper mode of conveyance, and taxis and autos are suffering losses.

A large section of the people is dissatisfied with the Modi government’s decision. But another large section is satisfied and ready to face the inconveniences for a few days. Interestingly, many people are panicky not because of having black money but due to sheer ignorance. Despite knowing the December 30 deadline to deposit the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, they are in the queues right from the night of November 8 when the Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the historic announcement. But, there are people even in the queues welcoming the decision. It looks like common people who understood the reason of the decision has not opposed the move.

There is great implication of the move on political parties especially when three states – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Manipur – are going to elections next year. Frustration of some parties is quite evident and they could not even maintain a particular stand on the issue. Seasoned Congress leaders like Randeep Surjewala and Gulam Nabi Azad wanted the government to “give time” to the people (money horders?) before going ahead with such move, although party leader P Chidambaram welcomed it with a rider. Mamata Banerjee went ahead claiming that this step was taken to destroy her party Trinamool Congress! Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Singh Yadav wanted a debate in the Parliament! But his party spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia hailed the decision, but with small riders. Mayawati, known for her being garlanded with Rs 1000 notes, too went berserk accusing BJP of perking funds abroad before going ahead with demonetisation. Now, it’s for everyone to see who’s got the real problem!

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on November 12, 2016)

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