Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram has said if he were the Finance Minister, he would have advised the Prime Minister against demonetisation, and that he would have resigned if his PM had asked him to implement demonetisation.
Chidambaram's comments had come at the Times LitFest 2016 in New Delhi, where he was art of a panel discussion in the topic 'Debating Modi Sarkar: The Role of the Opposition'. The other panellist was former Indian Foreign Serice officer and JDU MP Pavan Varma. The discussion was moderated by senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai. "This is not note bandhi (shut down), this is note badli (change)," quipped the former Union Finance Minister. "If you take away the livelihood of 45 crore people, is it not wrong? If your decision (demonetisation) is forcing people to beg and borrow, it is an unethical decision," Chidambaram said.
Chidambaram brushed off a question from the moderator on whether there is a trust deficit between the government and the Opposition. "I think you are making it up. There are sharp differences, but they don't shun each other," he said. However, his co-panellist, JDU's Pavan Varma, expressed reservation with the disruption of Parliament proceedings over the demonetisation issue. "Opposition's strategy was confused. When the Prime Minister wanted to speak, Opposition should have let him. Instead, they disrupted the session," he said.
"There is not a single day on which Parliament is not adjourned. Parliament must function for Opposition to put its point across," he added. Varma however decried the narrowing of space for the airing of political differences. "Even though we congratulate the government on the surgical strikes, if we ask any questions we are called anti-national. If we ask questions about the implementation of demonetisation, they say we support black marketers," he said. Varma urged the Prime Minister not to underestimate the intelligence of an ordinary man.