Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in the Rajya Sabha to participate in the debate on demonetisation and had to wait till Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in the Upper House of Parliament before he could speak. 

After an adjournment, the debate on demonetisation continued with Singh speaking first and the former Prime Minister, who was also a former RBI governor and an economist, did not mince words on his criticism of the scheme. 

Here are the highlights of his speech: 

  • The former Prime Minister said that he didn't disagree with the objective of the scheme to end black money and terror funding, but said that the exercise being undertaken was a "monumental mistake"
  • "This is a case of organised loot and legalised plundering."
  • The former Prime Minister said that what is being done "could erode people's confidence in currency and banking system".

 

  • The former Prime Minister said it was important to take note of the grievances of the people suffering and noted that over 60 people might have died in incidents linked to being unable to access their money. 
  • "Can the Prime Minister name any country where people have deposited money in banks but can't access it?"
  • "Even those who say that this measure will cause distress, in the short run, & it will be in the interest of the country in the long run reminds me of John Keynes' words, 'In the long run we are all dead.',"
  • "PM said we should wait 50 days. For those who are from the poor & deprived sections, even 50 days torture can bring about disastrous effect."

 

  • The former Prime Minister also criticised the Prime Minister's office, finance ministry and the central bank Reserve Bank of India for their implementation of the scheme so far. He also said he was sad to see the independent central bank fall to this level. 
  • "My feeling is that the GDP can decline by 2 percent points because of this,. That, in my opinion, is an underestimate and not an overestimate." 
  • " I urge PM to find pragmatic means to ease suffering of our people."
  • He also said that he didn't care what the government or opposition said on the issue and he would just like the Prime Minister to implement the scheme better. 

Here's the full video: