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Unsurprisingly, the currency swap initiative dominated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mann ki Baat address on Sunday—from new reward schemes to sweeten the digital deal to praise for the people for enduring the hardship. But neither is likely to be of much use in the face of the fast-approaching deadline. Both Modi and finance minister Arun Jaitley have stated that the cash crunch will end by the end of the year. That leaves just a week now to make good on that promise.
It is unlikely to happen. While the currency shortage will in all probability not drag on for much longer, an immediate end doesn’t seem to be in the offing. A growing consensus among bankers that limits on withdrawals will have to continue into the new year for banks to function properly has been reported. Just how far will Modi’s political credit extend with the voting public in states that are going to polls this year if withdrawal caps persist longer than expected? Particularly in Uttar Pradesh, potentially a barometer of national fortunes, that’s the million-dollar question.