In a conversation with reporters in Kolkata yesterday, Mamata Banerjee took several jabs at the BJP and their various schemes. She made predictions about the government’s increasingly sinister and all-encompassing plans for Aadhaar (“What is taking place in the name of the Aadhaar card will be dangerous for any individual and society”), their failure to keep the data they have secure, and of course the disaster that was demonetisation. In one particularly neat jab she compared demonetization to a Delhi Sultan infamous both for his experiments with currency and the sudden desire to move capital from Delhi to Daulatabad.
Banerjee said that “some people [emphasis ours] act like Muhammad Bin Tughlaq and take sudden decisions such as dividing the state or the move of demonetisation. This information about Aadhaar card details leakage also shows such a mindset.”
She demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi resign immediately because of the news of the Aadhaar data breach that broke yesterday. The Unique Identification Authority of India refused to say when the data breach happened, but they did admit that “200 government websites had publicly displayed details of numerous Aadhaar beneficiaries, including their names and addresses.”
Banerjee’s worries on the matter seemed to go a few steps further, when she told reporters, “They will listen to all personal talks…what a mother and daughter are talking, husband-wife conversation. I support one card system. There can’t be 10 cards. But they are putting everything on social media in the name of Aadhaar card.” She was partly referring to how citizens already have PAN cards, voters IDs, ration cards and passports, and that the government is collecting all sorts of information on a variety of platforms. We can’t be fully sure why she thinks the government is putting our information on social media. Maybe she was thinking of the time an Aadhaar registration volunteer posted MS Dhoni’s Aadhaar details on Twitter, and a minister retweeted it (leading Sakshi Dhoni to make some strong statements about privacy, for which she was immediately and viciously trolled).
Anyway, Banerjee’s Tughlaqi Raj jibe has got to sting a little extra, considering that our economy still hasn’t recovered from demonetisation just over one year in, and all the reportage around it on November 8th this year seemed to sheepishly or triumphantly agree on this. Research says that 1.5 million jobs have been lost purely because of demonetisation, and even analysts who openly profess that they were trying to be optimistic about its effects on the economy say that demonetisation failed to do what it set out to do, which was to curb illegal currency notes. You can always count on Didi to hit ‘em where it hurts. Or at least to hit ‘em.