NEW DELHI: The opposition’s allegation of two different 500 rupee notes issued by the government provoked a huge row in parliament today.
The Congress, displaying images of two Rs. 500 notes in the Rajya Sabha and claiming they were of different sizes and designs, alleged the “biggest scam of the century”.
“We ruled, but we never printed two kinds of notes, one for the party and one for the government – there are two kinds of Rs. 500 notes and two kinds of Rs. 1,000 notes,” said Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accused the Congress of making “irresponsible statements” about currency and misusing zero hour, when important subjects are discussed.
“There is no such provision where you flag any paper and say it’s a Point of Order….irresponsible remarks are being made about the currency… Zero Hour is being misused,” said Mr Jaitley.
Slogan-shouting Congress members gathered at the centre of the house.
The party’s senior leader Kapil Sibal said: “Today we have discovered why the government took the demonetisation decision. The RBI (Reserve Bank of India) prints two kinds of notes in different sizes and designs.”
Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien backed the Congress and said: “Look at the notes. Mr Sibal has raised a serious issue.”
Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi questioned the source of the notes.
Mr Jaitley later said he would verify the authenticity of the notes. “Given such a big print there can be an odd case of a currency note being slightly bigger or not,” he told NDTV.
Finance Ministry sources say a slight variation in size and design of notes is possible and stressed that the government has not asked for two different sets of notes to be printed.
“Different printing presses might have a slight variation in size and design. This does not mean there are two different sets of bank notes,” said the sources.