The Congress seems to be somewhat divided when it comes to the step taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to scrap the currently circulating Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, with party vice-president Rahul Gandhi openly attacking the move while former finance minister P Chidambaram showing support for it.
The difference of opinion may not bode well for Rahul Gandhi, who was recently urged by the top leaders of the Congress to take the reins of the party. If the old guard chooses to differ from what the prospective party chief has to say, it can be considered a weakness of the aforementioned leader and will be viewed as exactly that by party workers.
Rahul takes on policy
Rahul Gandhi had earlier on Wednesday severely criticised the demonetisation policy of the government, saying: "Once again Mr Modi shows how little he cares about the ordinary people of this country. Farmers, small shopkeepers, housewives — all thrown into utter chaos, while the real culprits sit tight on their black money stashed away abroad or in bullion or real estate. Well done Mr Modi."
He went on to ask: "One question for the prime minister: How is replacing Rs 1,000 notes with Rs 2,000 notes going to make black money hoarding a lot harder?"
'Should support,' says Chidambaram
Former finance minister and Congress veteran P Chidambaram — an MBA from Harvard Business School — however, chose to speak in a more sedate tone. He also went so far as to show his support for the scheme!
Addressing reporters later on Wednesday, he said: "The government announced that currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination will no longer be legal tender. The prime minister justified this as part of a plan to crack down on black money. If this is its purpose, then it deserves our support."
However, he was quick to raise some questions on some aspects of the scheme: "Replacement of old notes should be done quickly and with the least inconvenience to the people. The introduction of new series of notes can cost up to Rs 20,000 crore. Hence, the economic gains should be equal to that amount."
He also asked: "The introduction of the Rs 2,000 note is a puzzle. How will this move help prevent black money? If the new income is unaccounted-for, then would that not be hidden in the Rs 2,000 notes?"