On November 8 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation in an unscheduled live television address to the country at 8:15 PM. During the announcement, PM Modi declared circulation of all Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes of the Mahatma Gandhi Series as invalid effective from the midnight of the same day.
The sudden announcement created a lot of furore among the Opposition parties and masses. People were expected to deposit all the old notes to the banks and there was cap on the amount of cash withdrawal in a day. While the NDA government claimed that the move will wipe out black money from the system, the Opposition remained critical and they have been so till date.
The winter session of Parliament had seen deadlock with Opposition parties calling the demonetisation move as detrimental to poor and farmers. West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee emerged as face of the protests against demonetisation.
From Congress party to Aam Admi Party, from Bahujan Samaj Party to Trinamool Congress, from Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janada Dal to Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party, the entire spectrum of political Opposition united in their voice against the demonetisation.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that demonetization is a monumental mismanagement and it might bring down the GDP by 2 per cent.
"In my opinion that the way the scheme has been implemented will hurt agricultural growth in our country, will hurt small industry, will hurt all those people who are in the informal sector of the economy. And my own feeling is that the national income, that is the GDP, can decline by about 2 per cent as a result of what has been done. This is an underestimate," Dr Singh said.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi remained critical on the demonetization move. He called it a biggest scam committed by Narendra Modi single handedly.
“I want to tell about the biggest scam committed by Narendra Modi single handedly and present the voice of people, specially poor, who have suffered due to this move,” said Gandhi. He also questioned, “initially the government spoke about black-money, then moved to counterfeit currency and then again to a cashless society campaign.”
"This is a financial chaos and disaster let loose on the common people of India. Heartless and ill-conceived blow on the common people and middle class in the fake name of anti-corruption," said Mamata Banerjee.
Congress's Anand Sharma said housewives queueing up at banks and ATMs could not be seen as holders of black money and criticised the government for seeking to tar all critics of demonetisation as "anti-national".
BSP chief Mayawati said the government was attacking opposition parties in order to hide its own failures. She said her party was a movement that collected funds from common people and not from millionaires or overseas patrons. SP's Ram Gopal Yadav warned that BJP would face the wrath of its core voters.
"The PM is cleaning the pond to kill the crocodile. Crocodiles can survive outside water, but small fish are dying... It is no longer Jai Hind, PM appears in ads and says Jio Hind," said CPM's Sitaram Yechury.
Sitaram Yechury said that "India can never forgive Modi government for this anti-national act". "Over 100 people died due to demonetisation. Jobs lost, lives turned upside down, livelihoods over. Just due to one man's whim," Sitaram Yechury tweeted.
In a poem titled Demonetisation, Congress leader Kapil Sibal wrote, "gain for the rich, pain for the poor/ cash back in system, exposed their wisdom/ now this is our take, their promises fake".
Senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram tweeted, "Rs 16000 crore out of demonetised notes of Rs 15,44,000 crore did not come back to RBI. That is 1 per cent. Shame on RBI which 'recommended' demonetisation."