Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked BJP legislators and parliamentarians to submit details of their bank transactions between November 8 and December 31 to party chief Amit Shah. Rs 500 and 1,000 banknotes were scrapped on November 8 and December 31 is the last date for swapping the demonetised currency.
The move is to buttress the PM’s commitment to transparency and probity in public life. It is also meant to counter the Opposition parties’ attempt to run down the Centre’s demonetisation decision by highlighting its poor implementation and also by questioning the real motive.
Opposition parties disrupted the functioning of Parliament for the 11th day on Tuesday on this issue. Alleging that the demonetisation move was “leaked” in advance to favour those close to the ruling dispensation, they have demanded the setting up of a joint parliamentary committee to probe it. The government has dismissed these allegations.
The ruling party is also under attack following reports that before Rs 500 and 1,000 notes ceased to be legal tenders, the BJP’s Bihar unit had bought huge chunks of land and its West Bengal unit deposited a substantial amount of money in a bank.
The PM’s instructions to party MPs and MLAs on Tuesday might give a talking point to the BJP and also pressure other parties to follow suit. There were no immediate reactions from the Opposition parties. Sources in the Opposition camp, however, indicated that they were likely to dismiss the latest move on three grounds: First, the PM’s instructions might pre-empt any substantial deposits by BJP legislators; second, even if some BJP MPs and MLAs had hoarded black money, they would be foolhardy to deposit it in a bank in their own names; and third, they should have been asked to declare their deposits for the last one year at least.