Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed the double-edged sword of demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, recently. 

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Speaking in front of a gathering of businessmen, he called both the initiatives by the Modi government a complete disaster to Indian economy. The former Congress leader was quoted as saying:

“Black money and tax evasion are a menace that need to be tackled, but note ban was not the solution. It had been suggested many times in the past as well, but as a responsible government we never took such a drastic measure. Nowhere in the world has any nation taken such a drastic step that took away 86 percent of the legal tender…The stated objectives of note ban have not been met.”

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Addressing the plight of small businesses whose backbone broke as a result of demonetisation, he called November 8 a ‘black day’ for Indian democracy and economy. He said: 

“Tomorrow we mark one year since the disastrous policy was thrust on the people of our country.”

He further added:

“I repeat what I said in the parliament, this was organised loot and legalised plunder. This twin blow (GST and note ban) is a complete disaster for our economy.”

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He slammed the note-ban for Indian businessmen finding refuge in Chinese imports. He also talked about the 23 % increase in imported goods from China per year since then. He said:

“It’s broken the back of small and medium enterprises. Industrial clusters have been affected and that has hampered production… We had to run for Chinese imports at the cost of Indian jobs. In the first half of 2016-17, India’s imports from China stood at Rs 1.96 lakh crore. In 2017-18, it increased to Rs 2.41 lakh crore.”

He also condemned the high-profile bullet train project introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

“Did the PM consider the alternative of the high speed train by upgrading broad gauge railway? Our railways is languishing and is in dire need of investments,” he said.

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He put forth the question:

“Bullet train, launched with much fanfare, is an exercise in vanity. Did PM consider the alternative of the high speed train by upgrading broad gauge railway?”

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The PM who was in power for 10 years, raised some more concerns by saying:

“This attitude of suspecting everyone to be thief or anti-national, low level rhetoric is damaging to democratic discourse. While denigrating the past the Prime Minister is also exaggerating what he will do in future.”

Well, he certainly isn’t holding anything back this time.