For the first time since demonetisation of high-value currency notes, President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday cautioned the country that the move may lead to a slowdown of the economy. While addressing Governors and Lieutenant-Governors from Rashtrapati Bhavan through a video conference, he said: “Demonetization, while immobilizing black money and fighting corruption, may lead to a temporary slowdown of the economy.”
The day Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation of high-value currency notes, President Mukherjee in a tweet welcomed the decision. After this, the President received numerous representations from various political parties and civil society groups about the adverse effects of the move. As a conscience keeper of the nation, he has elaborated his views on this subject at a very crucial time, particularly when it is popularly believed that demonetisation would be the major electoral issue in the coming assembly polls in five states.
On the effects of demonetisation among the poor, the President has agreed with some of the criticism of the decision. This was reflected in his address on Thursday when he said: “We all will have to be extra careful to alleviate the suffering of the poor which might become unavoidable for the expected progress in the long run.”
Referring to the assembly elections in five states, the President said: “There will be elections in seven states out of which dates of five state elections have been announced. Elections reflect the attitude, values and beliefs of the people towards their political environment.” The President said: “As we have experienced, elections are usually marked by competitive populism, electoral rhetoric and vote bank politics.” He urged the Governors and Lieutenant-Governors to take a role to ease the social tensions.
On the issue of suffering of the poor, the President has expressed his anguish about the welfare schemes for the poor. He said: “While I appreciate the thrust on transition from entitlement approach to entrepreneurial one for poverty alleviation, I am not sure that poor can wait that long.”