Even as the Central government swung into action on Tuesday to ease anxiety over a shortage of cash in several states, senior opposition leaders took the opportunity to target the BJP and linked the shortage to the demonetisation decision of 2016.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi blamed the situation on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging the PM 'destroyed' the banking system. Speaking to a news agency, Rahul said, “During demonetisation also, we were forced to stand in queues as he (Prime Minister Modi) snatched Rs 5,00-1,000 rupee notes from our pockets and put in businessman Nirav Modi's pocket."
Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee saw an opportunity to reprise her role as a major opponent of demonetisation. Banerjee tweeted that the cash shortage in several states reminded her of the “#Demonetisation days” and asked, “Is there a Financial Emergency going on in the country?”
Banerjee was one of the most vocal critics of the demonetisation decision of November 2016, taking a line that was more outspoken than even the Congress. She, along with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, had staged protests over the decision, calling for a rollback. The move was interpreted as an attempt to build up her national 'profile' as an alternative to the BJP and Congress.
Reports of currency shortages in at least six states—Gujarat, eastern Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana—started appearing on Tuesday. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley sought to assure the public, saying that the RBI had “more than adequate currency” in circulation. He attributed the “temporary” shortage to a 'sudden and unusual increase' in demand in some areas.
(With agency inputs)