Nitish Kumar Questions Note Ban Benefits in Big U-Turn, Sushil Modi Rushes to Control Damage
Condemning the alleged rape of a 14-month-old girl, which triggered the violent attacks, Kumar said the guilty must be punished but an entire community should not be 'tarred with the same brush'.

Patna: Two years after terming Modi government's demonetisation move as a "courageous step", Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has made a U-turn. The Chief Minister questioned benefits of the step and slammed banks for allegedly trying to help rich and powerful manage their cash during notebandi.

"I was supporter of demonetisation...but how many people benefited from it? Some powerful people shifted their cash from one place to another," Kumar said at a meeting with bank officials here on Saturday.

It is first time that Kumar, who is also president of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ally, has questioned the demonetisation move of the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

Incidentally, Kumar's remark against the December 2016 demonetisation move came on a day when the party was celebrating completion of four years of Modi government at the Centre.

After the Chief Minister expressed his reservations about the benefits of demonetisation to the man on street, senior BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who was also present, downplayed his statement, saying, "Nitish Kumar has been a supporter of demonetisation."

In 2016, Kumar, then part of a Grand Alliance of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress, had supported demonetisation, while RJD chief Lalu Prasad had opposed the move. Kumar had described the Centre's demonetisation decision as "sahsik" (courageous), which, he said, would help in the fight against black money.

However, the attack on black money would yield better results only when scrapping of notes is coupled with attack on benami properties and prohibition, the chief minister said.

"While supporting demonetisation in principle, I, with equal strength, criticise the poor arrangements for its implementation due to which common man is facing hardship," Kumar, who is also the JD(U) National President, said.

"I am seeing a minus with plus whereas many others are seeing only minuses," he had said.