Why Is PM Modi Blaming Indira Gandhi for India’s Cash Crisis?
A present political conflict may explain why India's prime minister is blaming the past for his problems.
On Friday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi blamed former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for the country’s cash crisis -- even though she was assassinated in 1984.
On Friday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi blamed former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for the country’s cash crisis — even though she was assassinated in 1984.
Indira Gandhi is not, perhaps, the name that first comes to mind when considering the current Indian cash crisis. That would be Modi’s. In early November, Modi decided to ban 500 and 1000 rupee notes — that is, more than 85 percent of the currency in circulation. While this move was meant to tackle corruption, it ended up tackling the national economy, including small business owners and farmers, none of whom had warning that their cash was about to be rendered cheap. Some worry that the country won’t be re-monetized — that is, that the worth of the cash withdrawn from demonetization — until July 2017.
On Friday, the final day of this parliamentary session, Modi cited a 1971 report that strongly urged Indira Gandhi to demonetize to correct corruption — and alleged that her response was, “Are there no more elections to be fought by Congress?”
It’s suggested this was Modi’s way of juxtaposing himself so as to seem like that rarest of things: A politician who does what’s right, not what’s popular, even if what’s right causes a disruption in trade across sectors and impacts the poor and unbanked more than it does, say, those working in technology.
Still, a politician in 1971 hardly seems like the most relevant scapegoat. Unless, of course, she’s the late grandmother of an opposition figure.
Rahul Gandhi is a leading figure in the Indian National Congress party. He met with Modi on Friday to waive farmers’ loans — just days after he claimed having evidence showing the current prime minister is politically corrupt.
Modi’s party denounced the corruption allegations and called on Rahul Gandhi to apologize. Modi himself wants to meet with his rival more often — and said as much on the same day he blamed Gandhi’s grandmother for India’s pecuniary problems.
Photo credit: PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images
Emily Tamkin is a global affairs journalist and the author of The Influence of Soros and Bad Jews. Twitter: @emilyctamkin
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