Below the Line: Poll in in Modi’s court

Our Bureaus | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on January 01, 2017

P Chidambaram In questioning mode   -  R Ragu

On New Year’s Eve, the PM was yet again heard pressing for simultaneous State and national elections. So, what is stopping the decision-making process. Not the Election Commission, which “…has communicated its concurrence with the proposal in 2015 as well as in 2016 stating that it is possible and feasible provided there are certain changes are made in legislation and also enough infrastructural support extended”. So says an official in the know. Which means the ball is in Narendra Modi’s court.

Tough call

According to analysts, it appears 2017 will be one of the toughest years for the IT sector, and if we were to believe certain insiders, the top honcho of their IT services’ company could be one of the casualties. The buzz is that his slightly over-the-top claims and rumours of freely spending the company’s money haven’t exactly gone down well with his board. The person who might replace him could be someone who was sidelined for the top job earlier but was well liked by his colleagues. But then, this year could also give the CEO an opportunity to redeem himself if he can manage to grow the company’s business. Mysterious, no?

Not cash-less for long

If you thought netas were not affected by notebandi, you thought wrong. Within a week of the PM announcing demonetisation and pushing for digitisation, senior ministers in his Cabinet decided to do something to ensure their staff did not suffer. Many minsters got pre-paid cards from banks and handed them to their staff to manage their daily expenses. Kind of caring.

Benefit performance

With the Opposition initially backing the demonetisation move and then attacking it later, the Government is also going all out to tackle this so-called disinformation campaign. Ministers have been asked to visit various regions to inform the citizens of the series of steps the Government has been taking to tackle black money.

PC’s poke

With the wounds of demonetisation still hurting after the 50-day timeframe following the November 8 announcement, a reporter asked former finance minister P Chidambaram if the move had perhaps been the “single biggest economic failure” of the Government. “I don’t know what other failures are in store in the next two-and-a-half years. I can’t just say this is the single biggest failure.” He didn’t stop there: he said (demonetisation) was clearly single biggest case of “total mismanagement, administrative collapse and widespread corruption”; the “most momentous” decision taken without consulting key officials directly connected with the decision! No mincing no words.

Getting curiouser and curiouser

It appears that three wise men and the RBI governor, Urjit Patel, met for about 30 minutes at the board meeting on the evening of November 8 to recommend the demonetisation move to the Union Cabinet. The crucial question is: How did the four worthies conclude, in 30 minutes, that 86 per cent of the currency in circulation must be demonetised? According to PC, the sequence of events that day was scripted ahead, with each person having been assigned a role to play.

The former finance minister points out that the RBI is obliged to disclose what happened at that meeting. Was there an agenda paper? Was there any dissent? What facts and information was shared with the RBI board? What was discussed? Was there a Cabinet note on this before the Government took a decision? Some day or the other this information should be made public. But for now, it’s all locked up in the archives.

Top secret

It appears no one knew for sure when the PM would address the nation on December 31. A formal announcement was made only on that day. Why the secrecy?

Published on January 01, 2017

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