After the government’s decision to demonetise high denomination notes overlapping with the wedding season had been a cause of grief for many households. Offering some respite to families celebrating, Economic Affairs Secretary Shantikala Das announced that those in need of money can withdraw up to Rs. 2.5 lakh cash per wedding. With the government eased cash withdrawal norms, it become easier to arrange for currency notes of smaller denominations to pay vendors, ranging from florists to mehendi artists, who generally accept only cash. And to withdraw this limited amount one had to submit the long list of documents to get the funds released for marriages. Families’ were struggling with the groundwork required to avail the Centre-mandated withdrawal limit of Rs. 2.5 lakh for weddings. Several marriages broke during this period and even today many families cannot think of marriage, as small business groups faced lots of financial crunch. Many of them closed shutters while some others are struggling to survive for basic needs. Many people died while standing in the bank’s queue, the bride and groom stood hours in the queue to withdraw money for their own marriage. On one hand the commoners faced grave issues whereas on the other hand politicians especially BJP’s leaders’ children had lavish weddings with no limits and no accountabilities. Entire state police and missionary were used in marriage for security reasons, the police kept a watch on the proceedings through drone cameras that hovered over the venue at regular intervals.
Maharashtra legislator and son of state BJP chief had his luxurious wedding. The wedding included video invites, a designer set showing a medieval-era palace and a menu with many cuisines. The guest list boasted of 30,000 guests including senior politicians from Maharashtra. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Former Chief Minister Narayan Rane and Poonam Mahajan and almost all BJP’s small and big leaders were the attendees. The entire state cabinet, led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, descended upon the city for the mega marriage ceremony. The guests for the ostentatious affair ranged from an unprecedented number of VVIPs to bureaucrats and commoners from Aurangabad and Jalna. Among the politicians who turned up were two Shiv Sena ministers of state, opposition leaders and MLAs cutting across party lines. The marriage was so lavish that the leader could have used the same money to solve the problems of state, and could have saved thousands of farmers from committing a suicide due to rising debts. Santosh Danve is the MLA from Bhokardan, an area in Marathwada region that has been drought-hit for two years. He is the son of Raosaheb Danve, the Maharashtra BJP Chief.
But not just the wedding, the MLA had also shared an elaborate pre-wedding video on Facebook on February 24 with wife Renu Sarkate. The video shot at a resort with drone cameras, showcases a grand piano and a luxury car. The marriage function was similar to Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari’s daughter wedding held in Nagpur in December last year. At least ten chartered or special flights carrying VIPs were flown in to the city for the ceremony. Among the VVIPs were Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, Devendra Fadnavis, Mohan Bhagwat, Maneka Gandhi and Baba Ramdev.
Last month, Congress MP Ranjeet Ranjan introduced a bill in Lok Sabha seeking a cap on wedding expenses. If a family spends above Rs. 5 lakh on a wedding, they have to contribute 10% of the wedding budget on marriages of girls from poor families. But all these double standards are only for masses, classes have their own way of bypassing every rule.
It may be mentioned here that a bill in the Lok Sabha seeks to put a limit on the number of guests to be invited and dishes to be served at weddings to check the “show of wealth”. The bill also wants those spending above Rs. 5 lakh to contribute towards the marriage of girls from the poorer sections of the society.
Soon after the announcement of demonetization, the Bellary mining baron Gali Janardhan Reddy’s daughter’s wedding was worth recalling. Though, that ceremony was criticised for the cost in excess of Rs. 500 crore at a time the rest of the country was reeling under a cash crunch following a shock scrapping of high-value currency. The lavish wedding at the sprawling Bengaluru Palace Grounds of his daughter Brahmani with Rajeev Reddy came under tax officials’ scanner. The expenses included invitations to A-list film actors for entertainment and an elaborate set recreating the ruins of Hampi, the erstwhile capital of the Vijaynagar Empire. Reddy, a former Karnataka Minister jailed in 2011 on graft charges was released on bail in January 2015.
Modi announced in a broadcast to the nation that Rs. 500 and Rs. 1 000 currency notes would no longer be recognized as a legal tender. People may call it as master stroke, but since then no black money was caught or traced. The aim behind the government’s action was to combat tax cheating, counterfeiting and corruption. Eliminating large denominations makes it harder to hide large amounts of cash. Modi noted that the move complements the country’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India campaign). For years, this country has felt that corruption, black money and terrorism are festering sores, holding us back in the race towards development. To break the grip of corruption and black money; he decided that the currency notes presently in use will no longer be legal tender. Many changes were made, so many announcements were done, there was moral policing, there were raids, and there were stories of income tax scrutiny, all which was for common man. No rich or wealthy person really suffered in this drama but the lower and middle class families had faced hardships. Netas are going lavish on everything, but still the government has no spine to set the limit for them or ask them to follow set rules. Anyway, this is not the first time that BJP’s double standards got exposed.
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