Would have quit if PM wanted ban, says P Chidambaram

The Asian Age.

India, All India

Chidambaram claimed that sufficient information on ramifications of demonetisation was not provided to the PM.

Former finance minister P. Chidambaram (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: Former finance minister P. Chidambaram said that had he been asked to carry on demonetisation as finance minister he would have “”resigned”. “Had the Prime Minister told me ‘I have decided to declare as illegal tenders Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes’, my advice to him would have been not to do it. Don’t take the decision. I would have given him facts and figures. But, had he still said ‘Sorry, this is my decision and I will do it’, let me tell you quite candidly, I would have resigned,” Mr Chidambaram said at a literature festival in the national capital. Mr Chidambaram claimed that the move will not meet the objectives of curbing corruption, counterfeit currencies and black marketeering as spelt out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, he added that the “only short-term benefits” of it would result in people shifting towards digital transactions in the urban areas. He also claimed that sufficient information on ramifications of demonetisation was not provided to the Prime Minister and even the chief economic advisor was unaware of such a move.

He said when he held the office of the finance minister, it came to his knowledge that one of his predecessors had constituted a committee on demonetisation, but did not name the predecessor or specify the period .”The report of the CBDT was against demonetisation. No one considered demonetisation,” he said, adding that similar steps were taken in 1946 and again, in 1978 during Morarji Desai’s regime.

While he maintained that secrecy could have been maintained even if opposition would have been taken into confidence “If you can’t consult the opposition, the government should have consulted its own former finance minister Yashwant Sinha. It should have asked former prime minister Manmohan Singh. A decision of this magnitude ought to be taken at least (in consultation) with Sinha and Singh.”