In a sharply worded opinion article published in the Financial Times, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision last year to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes had damaged the vitality of the Indian economy.
Gandhi is scheduled to lead a protest against demonetisation in Gujarat’s Surat on Wednesday, The Hindu reported.
In the Financial Times article, he called Modi a “democratically elected autocrat” who wanted to end corruption but instead managed to destroy people’s confidence in the country’s economy.
Demonetisation has wiped out 2 per cent of India’s gross domestic product, destroyed the informal labour sector and has wiped out many small and medium businesses. It has ruined the lives of millions of hard-working Indians. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy has calculated that over 1.5m people lost their jobs in the first four months of 2017 due to demonetisation.
The Congress leader also criticised the government’s poor implementation of the Goods and Services Tax and termed it a modern day ‘Licence Raj’. “Bureaucratic and complex, it has devastated livelihoods, creating a modern day ‘Licence Raj’ that imposes rigid controls and gives vast powers to government officials.”
Gandhi said micro, small and medium businesses could meet the job challenge posed by China, which, he said, account for close to a quarter of the world’s goods by output value.
“We urgently need to empower these networks and connect them to capital and technology,” the Congress leader wrote. “But instead of helping them grow, the Modi government has fatally wounded them with demonetisation and a flawed new tax.”