NEW DELHI -- Congress on Sunday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi sounded "apologetic" in his New Year eve speech as his 50-day "shuddhi yagna" of demonetisation has turned out be an "uncontrolled forest fire" that has claimed "several lives" and crippled the economy.
The opposition party also claimed that the scheme of financial assistance to pregnant women, announced by Modi, was actually started by the UPA.
Hitting out at Prime Minister for calling note-ban a 'shuddhi yagna', senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said the move is nothing short of an "uncontrolled forest fire" that has claimed several lives and hit the economy.
He said the speech gave no "hard data" on how much black money was extinguished, whether sufficient quantity of ₹500 notes were issued and about restrictions on cooperative banks.
Chavan said the speech did not have clarity on the legal issues raised over note ban and compensation for deaths "due to demonetisation exercise".
"The entire black currency available in the economy has been converted into legitimate money. Exact opposite of what the PM wanted," Chavan said.
Chavan also questioned whether there was a deliberate attempt to keep ₹500 notes out of circulation and wondered whether Modi was advocating a zero-cash economy.
"This will be one of the most depressing starts of a new year in recent memory. The Prime Minister's speech was full of jingoistic appeal wrapped in nationalistic fervour comparing demonetisation with external aggression," Chavan said.
Chavan, who was also a Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) under UPA, said the scheme of financial assistance to pregnant women was started by the UPA in November 2010 as a pilot project.
"It became part of the National Food Security Act (2013). The financial assistance under this scheme was increased from Rs 4000 to Rs 6000 in 2013 itself," the Congress leader said.
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