Taking a sly dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue of demonetisation, former finance minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said even the 14th century sultan of Delhi, Muhammad bin Tughlaq, had implemented note ban 700 years back. "There were many 'shahensha' (king) who brought their own currency. Some even kept previous currency in circulation while introducing the new one. But, there was a shahenshah 700 years back—Muhammad Bin Tughlaq—who introduced his own (currency) while discontinuing the old currency," he said at a function in Ahmedabad.
"Thus, we can say that demonetisation was done 700 years back. Though Tughlaq is infamous for shifting his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad, he has also done demonetisation," Sinha said.
Tughlaq had ruled the Delhi Sultanate for a short period of time in the 14th century, and was infamous for decisions like shifting the capital of the Sultanate from Delhi to Daulatabad and introducing non-precious metal currency.
Sinha was invited to the city by a group of activists under the banner of 'Lokshahi Bachao Abhiyan' (Save Democracy Movement) to share his views about note ban and the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
He claimed that the biggest problem of the country was unemployment.
"Time is running out to do something for the economy in the current situation," he said.
Citing a report by the 'Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy', the veteran BJP leader claimed that the direct cost of demonetisation would come around Rs 1,28,000 crore.
"The direct cost of note ban, such as printing new notes, would come around Rs 1,28,000 crore. If we consider that the economy has slowed down by 1.5 per cent due to note ban, although I believe it is more than that, then it has made a dent of Rs 2,25,000 crore more to the economy.
"Now add that direct cost of Rs 1,28,000 crore with this Rs 2,25,000 crore. In total, our economy has suffered a loss of around Rs 3.75 lakh crore directly," he said.
Sinha, who was finance minister under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government at the Centre, said demonetisation and GST roll-out were treated just as "media events".
"We must think why we did that. We did it because nowadays everything is a media event. We started believing that no one did that before us. You should not forget that Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government was also there. If he has not done anything, then why did we give him Bharat Ratna?" said Sinha.
(With inputs from PTI)