New Delhi: Unfazed by combined opposition attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in and outside Parliament, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today ruled out roll back of demonetisation saying the government is firm on cleansing politics and economy of the country.
Rejecting the demand of political parties like Aam Admi Party and Trinamool Congress, he said, "Whatever AAP and Trinamool Congress said about the roll back, there is no question of that. It is a clear decision of the Prime Minister and government to cleanse politics and economy of the country. We will stick to it (demonetisation)".
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal along with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today organised a protest in front of RBI office in the national capital to oppose the decision of the government to withdraw Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. They are demanded withdrawal of the demonetisation as it is causing hardship to common man.
The issue of demonetisation also rocked Parliament leading to repeated adjournments of the Rajya Sabha as well as the Lok Sabha.
On opposition's demand for reply by Modi on demonetisation issue in Parliament, Jaitley said: "Government has a collective responsibility. And therefore it is the prerogative of the government on who should reply to a debate.
"Bulk of the debate has already taken place. I have attended the debate. And the government will decided who will reply to the debate. If the government thinks it is necessary at appropriate time for the prime Minister to intervene, we will consider it at that stage. But it is not necessary that there is an intervention (by Prime Minister) in every debate."
Jaitley also criticised the statement of Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and senior Congress Ghulam Nabi Azad who said more people died standing in queues of banks than in terrorist attack at Uri.
Regretting Azad's remarks, the minister said comparing demonetisation problems with Pakistan-sponsored terrorism at Uri is "certainly not a responsible political comment".
He added: "What is the vested interest of Congress party in opposing this campaign to root out black money, crime money and make the Indian economy cleaner. Congress as a national party must support this."
Participating in the discussion on demonetisation in the Rajya Sabha, Azad said: "People are suffering because of demonetisation. The death toll has reached 40. In the attack by Pakistani terrorists (on army camp) in Uri (in Kashmir), even half of the deaths did not take place. People double than that figure have died due to wrong policy of the government."
On why the government was targeting only cash to unearth black money, Jaitley said it was necessary to squeeze cash to prevent generation of more black money.
"You have to squeeze cash because black money generates more black money. Not whatever is in assets is a matter of assessment by the income tax authorities. But whatever is lying in hard cash so that it does not generate anything for the future, has to be squeezed out," he added.
Jaitley also dismissed the criticism that banks have written off loans belonging to large industrial houses. "That is completely a false statement. These were loans given during the Congress government. Obviously there is no write off, only the column changes. Some of performing assets become non-performing. But you still keep chasing the loan for recovery.”
"Write off in the banking parlance, does not mean loan waiver. It just means, that a performing asset has become a non-performing asset. And therefore the opposition must understand the banking terminology before making an irresponsible statement," he added.
Terming the demonetisation of the high denomination notes as a "transformational" move that will make India's economy transparent, Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that "those who are not honest will have to think about and suffer about".
"Indians by temperament like and support honesty...nearly 15 per cent of the economy is cash - its a very high number - and more than 80 per cent of these are of the denomination of Rs 500 and Rs 1000. It is not against those who are honest. Indians more than 95 per cent are honest but those who are not honest have to think about and suffer about," Prasad said.
Stating that the initial hiccups are just teething trouble, he expressed confidence that people have welcomed the move and India would be a better empowered and honest society.
"Those criticising the move need to clarify whether they support the efforts to transform India. It is being said that the situation is like an emergency, what does that mean...In this Government, PM and other Ministers had opposed emergency, were part of the struggle, went to jail...so don't tell us about emergency.
"Many of those who had supported emergency are those who are opposing it (demonetisation) today," Prasad said.