Prime Minister Modi’s decision to eliminate Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes has been widely hailed as a move that’ll help clamp down on black money. Ordinary Indians have been raving about it, and even experts have felt that it’s a bold step that’ll help stop corruption. The move is also widely expected to help digital wallets, by giving them a new use-case and audience for their products.
But there’s one man who’s unhappy with the development – Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Paytm biggest beneficiary of PM's announcement. Next day PM appears in its ads. Whats the deal, Mr PM? https://t.co/lfP0PrQICQ
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) November 10, 2016
What Kejriwal says is true – the day after the announcement, Paytm had run a full page ad with Prime Minister Modi’s picture. But it’s hard to parse what Kejriwal means – he seems to hint that the government used its entire machinery, got the RBI into the loop, and took a huge political risk, all to somehow benefit Paytm, a startup that runs a digital wallet. “What’s the deal, Mr. PM”, Kejirwal asks, implying that some collusion took place between the government and the digital wallet company.
Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma took the opportunity to respond to the tweet.
Dear Sir, The biggest beneficiary is our country. We are just a tech startup, trying to solve financial inclusion & make India proud. #🇮🇳 https://t.co/3rI8r6W0EZ
— Vijay Shekhar (@vijayshekhar) November 10, 2016
Sharma seemed to respectfully allay the Delhi Chief Minister’s fears, and said that Paytm was just a tech startup. Paytm had indeed been working on financial inclusion for a while, without any governmental intervention. The fact that a recent government scheme helps its business can’t be necessarily seen as an indication of corruption.
Interestingly, Paytm is headquartered in Noida, and Vijay Shekhar Sharma lives in Delhi. And Delhi’s Chief Minister appearing suspicious of a startup, and looking at its ads in narrow political terms, can’t be good news for the investment climate of the state.