New Delhi, Nov. 18: A fisherman from Kerala today said the people's resignation in accepting the currency recall despite the distress was not a sign of support but a reflection of how difficult it was mobilise people strapped for cash.
"This note-ban is an attack on people's movements," said T. Peter of the National Fishworkers' Forum at a public meeting on 'Does Demonetisation Tackle Black Money?'
"People cannot even come out to protest in an organised manner because they do not have money to spend for travel."
He said fish workers from across the country had planned a rally against corporate loot of fish on November 21 in Delhi to mark World Fisheries Day. But many fish workers' unions had informed him they would not be able to send people in adequate numbers in the absence of cash.
"Even I am managing in Delhi with the help of my friends because I have a Rs 2,000 note which nobody will take," Peter said, after warning that the television "theatrics" at 8pm on November 8 would be repeated over the rest of Narendra Modi's term. "Be vigilant."
Earlier, economist Prabhat Patnaik feared that the way the government had talked up the note recall had made people feel the trouble was worth it.
Referring to the government propaganda that the teething troubles were just a little pain for a larger gain, he said: "Many seem to have internalised this," explaining what he called "distress without resistance".
CPI(ML)'s Dipankar Bhattacharya challenged the government's "myth-making" by wondering how and when black money supposed to be stashed overseas had morphed into Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. During his Lok Sabha campaign, Modi had repeatedly promised to bring back black money stashed in tax havens overseas.
Taking a dig at the two private-sector ads that featured Modi prominently - Reliance Jio and Paytm - Bhattacharya said the government's new slogan appeared to be "Jio Paytm se, maro ATM pe" (Live with Paytm and die at ATM).
Socialists, he said, had been accused of doing nothing and forcing people to stand in queues. But under this government, "all of India has been forced out of their homes to queue up outside banks."
As for BJP supporters likening the deaths in bank queues to those in ration lines in the past, he said: "Now people are dying in a note ration line."
Sunita Rani Minj of Domestic Workers' Union said the poor had been hit very badly. She said if people like her spent too much time at the bank, they were pulled up in the homes where they worked.
CITU president A.K. Padmanabhan said it was important to raise a collective voice against the currency recall and insist that old notes remain valid tender till everyone's money was replaced and all had free access to their own money.
Demanding the resignation of the RBI governor, Thomas Franco of the All India Bank Officers Confederation said 11 bank employees had died across the country post-demonetisation.
The Congress's Mani Shankar Aiyar said the note recall was a political decision taken without expert advice. With implementation being far from smooth, bankers and officers had been called in to clean the mess.
Had economists been consulted, the country would not have been plunged into the crisis it is in, he said.
The meeting was convened by the Centre for Financial Accountability and the Public Finance Public Accountability Collective. It brought together not just Left parties and unions but also an Aam Aadmi Party representative as part of an effort to mobilise opinion against the government.