PATNA: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar sided with the Opposition today to harshly criticise the Union budget, calling it “utterly disappointing”, and pointing out that it did not clarify how much black money or fake currency was detected since the ban on 500- and 1000- rupee notes on November 8.
“Those of us who supported demonetisation wish to know how much black money and fake currencies fell in the net during the 50-day drive,” the JD(U) president said. “Instead of saying anything concrete on the outcome of demonetisation, emphasis has now been laid on cashless transactions as a part of diversionary tactics.”
The Centre, he said, chants “lofty slogans” about digital transactions, but show no concern to strengthen the infrastructure for it, like “increasing the number of bank branches at the grassroot-level”. He also said there was no mention of compensation to those who “faced the brunt of demonetisation” – people in the unorganised sector who lost their jobs.
A former railway minister, Mr Kumar also slammed the Centre for scrapping the railway budget. “The government has ruined the railway,” he said.
Mr Kumar had stood apart from opposition – including his ruling allies Congress and Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal — with his support for the Central government’s notes ban. Later, on Makar Sankranti, he had invited BJP leaders for the traditional feast. While the feast had to be called off following a boat accident, the invitation was seen as a mark of fresh bonhomie between Mr Kumar’s Janata Dal United and the BJP. The two parties, which jointly ruled Bihar, had a bitter and acrimonious split ahead of the 2014 general elections.
In January, the Chief Minister, however, announced that his party would hold a meeting to review the currency ban. A section of the Congress had pointed out that Mr Kumar shouldn’t delay announcing his stand.