In an apparent show of transparency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked all MPs and MLAs of the Bharatiya Janata Party to provide details of their bank transactions between November 8—when demonetisation came into effect—and December 31, the day the drive ends.
But opposition parties lambasted the move as meaningless, demanding that Modi ask his legislators to provide details of all bank transactions for six months prior to November 8.
Modi's instruction came at a BJP Parliamentary Party meeting held here on Tuesday. Informed sources said he asked BJP lawmakers to submit their bank transaction details to party President Amit Shah by January 1, 2017.
The move, seen as an effort to blunt opposition criticism that BJP members knew in advance about the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bank notes, was instead dubbed by the opposition as an attempt to fool the people.
"This is a cosmetic attempt to pull off another PR spin to fool the people of India," Congress leader Sanjay Jha said. "Why not make public all cash deposits/withdrawals prior to that period? Why isn't Modi declaring the source of electoral funds of the BJP during 2014 elections," Jha questioned.
Congress leader Tom Vadakkan, while reiterating the demand that disclosures should extend to the period prior to November 8, wondered why the information was being submitted to BJP President Shah. "The information should come out in the public domain and not just be submitted to Amit Shah," he said.
The opposition charge is based largely on a sudden surge in deposits at scheduled commercial banks in the second half of September—a little over a month before the demonetisation announcement—to the extent of about Rs 3.5 lakh crore. The surge was preceded by a slight drop in deposits in the first half of September.
The government has said the surge was a result of the then ongoing Income Disclosure Scheme (IDS) and payouts of Seventh Pay Commission arrears. However, the amount involved in the scheme and arrears was not enough to account for the total surge.
The Congress apart, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal also criticised the Prime Minister and the BJP President over the move to disclose banking transactions between November 8 and December 31.
"So now BJP MP/MLAs will give their bank details to Amit Shah and he (Amit Shah) will check black money," the Delhi Chief Minister tweeted.
Attacking the BJP, AAP leader Ashutosh said: "It is the biggest farce one can ever imagine. If the BJP is serious, they should make their transaction details public and give it to the Income Tax Department."
"What is the purpose of submitting them to Amit Shah," he wondered.
Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader and Rajya Sabha Member Ali Anwar said: "First thing, the BJP must give details of the bank transactions prior to November 8."
He said: "Our party has exposed the land deals of the BJP in 22 districts of Bihar (in the months before demonetisation). And we shall keep on opposing the wrongdoings of the BJP."
At the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting earlier in the day, Shah reportedly told party MPs to motivate traders in panchayats, municipalities and other local bodies falling in their constituencies to shift to cashless transactions.