New Delhi: The Cabinet meeting last evening was supposed to begin at 7 PM. Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not arrive for the meet until 7:45 PM.
On arrival, the prime minister shared with his colleagues the decision to meet what had been a demand of many anti-corruption crusaders. Modi had by then got the idea fine tuned by the Ministry of Finance headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley advised by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian and others. The prime minister told the Cabinet he was going to announce the abolition of Indian rupee notes of denominations 500 and 1,000.
Modi spoke just for 5 min, finally leaving the Cabinet with two messages: that he was going to meet President Pranab Mukherjee to convey the decision and that they must switch on their television sets at 8 PM sharp.
By taking the Cabinet into confidence, the prime minister conformed to the convention, much as none of the ministers had got a whiff of what was about to come before those five minutes that left them stunned.
The prime minister then headed for the Rashtrapati Bhavan and informed the president of the decision as, technically, the president is the head of the government who must be kept in the loop and also explained how a policy decision is to be talked about by the head of the state in his speeches.
What the people got to see and hear on national television, beginning 8 PM, looked like a live telecast, but it was a recorded speech. The way Modi was weighing every word showed it had been rehearsed. But we are not speculating. This whole sequence of events was revealed to सिर्फ़ News by some of the top officers in the government.