I should give Manak Gupta credit for picking up the subtle change in focus of TV coverage a couple of days ago :
Suddenly, the TV channels had gone from showing visuals of lines to talking about lines. On social media, there is a sudden and severe crunch of shocking images of people standing in lines to access their money. Even the few stock images from Kenya that were being passed off as bank queues in India are now well known hoaxes and have been withdrawn from circulation by Congress party spokespersons.
I had been dying to hold a new Rs 2000 note myself. Today morning, I stood in line and received 2 crisp new notes of Rs 2000 along with a thick bundle of Rs 20 notes (lol!) adding up to Rs 6000. Took me half an hour. At the time I exit the SBI branch, there was not a single person outside the door. Inside the bank, there was a line of about 5-6 people. If I had come 30 minutes later, I would probably have walked out of the bank in under 15 minutes.
And the media has started to admit this:
This is Day 10 since demonetization. In fact it would be appropriate to call it Day 9, because banks and ATMs were all closed on Wednesday Nov 9. What happens in 7 more days, say on Nov 25? And what will be the picture five days after that? What will the Opposition do on the morning of Dec 1, 2016?
What did the Opposition think? Did they think the lines would last forever? How could they not anticipate that after the initial mad rush, the queues would start shortening very quickly. Basic statistics supports this. The Opposition wasn’t just caught on the wrong side of history, they were caught on the wrong side of SCIENCE. I don’t blame Mamata Didi, with her college degree in Islamic studies (not kidding…it’s true…check it) for not understanding this fact. But at least a CM with a degree from IIT should have realized that mathematics would make the queues drop sharply. And there is no anarchy in mathematics. Fasting makes no difference either. Rules are rules.
And right now, the only lever that the Opposition has is literally melting away before their very eyes. With each passing day. You know things are bad when even News18 and that too Pallavi Ghosh starts reporting this:
“But what is bothering the Opposition is the fact that as time passes, the queues were getting shorter. More and more relaxations were announced at the government’s daily briefings. But more significantly, as the days passed the queues started getting more orderly.”
NOW they have started the rethink! LOL! The government does not mind disruptions in the House as of now… they are in fact happy to let Parliament get adjourned over and over again. Because with every passing day and in fact with each passing minute the queues get shorter. By getting the House adjourned, the Opposition is just missing their own opportunity to strike.
And what happens two weeks from now when it is business as usual at the banks? The Opposition will be left without any issue whatsoever, exposed and vulnerable to Modi’s attacks from every single direction. On Dec 1, Modi will have all his cards. The Opposition will be completely unarmed. Here is a (partial?) list of arrows the Prime Minister will have in his quiver:
(1) He will claim to be the man who has done more against black money than any other PM could have even imagined.
(2) He will accuse the Opposition of complaining because they have lost their own stockpiles of dirty money.
(3) He will go to the poor of the country and say that he made the rich suffer (I despise the socialist style rhetoric of projecting the rich as inherently evil, but the class war card has a record of giving political dividends)
(4) He can start conducting vicious IT raids on big fish, seizing their ill gotten cash and benaami properties. This has already started today. When the big fish are raided, the aam aadmi will literally jump in delight.
(5) He can cut income tax rates, which will provide an absolute water-tight seal against any middle class support that may have leaked out because of long lines for a couple of weeks.
(6) Ditto with taxes on traders, which will pacify the BJP’s base with small traders.
(7) Don’t forget Ghulam Nabi Azad’s loose remarks yesterday comparing Uri to demonetization. As it is, Rahul baba is in a soup with his khoon ki dalali remarks. A vicious pun from Modi connecting surgical strikes, dalals and black money could be only days away. Opposition can only pray.
(8) He can even announce a certain amount to be deposited in every Jan Dhan account as a gesture of apology and gratitude to the poor for bearing with the government during the difficult times.
Does the Opposition have any possible comeback to even one of these moves? Add to this the fact that prodding the people towards orderly plastic money will increase transparency and confidence in the Indian economy, resulting in more investment.
The Opposition hasn’t thought this through. Their only source of political capital was the immediate suffering in long lines…and that political capital is simply melting away. To be fair to them, there wasn’t very much they could have done in response to such a bold move from PM Modi. Their best chance was to be seen as in lock step with the government in taking a historic step. Nitish Kumar has done the only sensible thing in this regard. But the others, especially a certain anarchist and a certain jihadi, will curse the day they decided to go down the black hole.