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Chidambaram dares PM Modi to accept failure of demonetisation

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to have the “courage” to accept that note ban was a wrong decision.

The former Union minister blamed demonetisation for much of the trouble the economy is facing, saying it resulted in loss of 1.5 lakh jobs and the 1.4 percentage point drop in GDP growth virtually wiped out the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

“It does not require courage to make a wrong decision, but it requires courage to accept that you have made a wrong decision. Demonetisation was a wrong decision and the PM should have the courage to accept that he made a wrong decision,” he told reporters here.

“Where are jobs? Indirectly, government has admitted its failures. Minister for MSME Kalraj Mishra has been sacked, the skill development minister has been sacked, which means the skill development mission and creating jobs has failed. The labour minister has been sacked because your labour policies have failed,” Mr Chidambaram said.

Maintaining that the country is facing a “very bad economic crisis”, he said youth are bearing the brunt of the wrong policies of the government.

While 1.2 crore people are joining the workforce annually, not enough jobs are being created, he said.

Chidambaram said many more ministers should have been sacked in the last week’s reshuffle, and referred to “failures” in agriculture which has grown at 2 per cent in first quarter, and also the change of guard at the commerce and industries ministry, where exports have declined and manufacturing growth is sagging.

Asked if the Congress will seek the PM’s resignation over the state of the economy, he said, “It is not easy (to ask) for the PM’s resignation….the PM has come to a conclusion that the labour, skill development and MSME policies have failed, for which he has sacked these three ministers.”

Chidambaram further said it is unfair to conclude that the recent elections were a (positive) verdict on note ban, and added that one should not be “dazzled” by the BJP’s thumping victory in Uttar Pradesh.

Terming the so-called Rs. 16,000 crore gain from unreturned notes as “illusory”, he said the RBI had to spend much more for printing new notes and transporting them.

On the banking sector’s NPA trouble, he said up to 40 per cent of bad loans have originated during the Modi regime, and alleged that bank chairmen are not taking decisions for fear of harassment from investigative arms of the government.

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