The endless queues at ATMs across the country continued on Wednesday. Familiar tales of harried citizens returning home empty handed as ATMs ran out of cash was the norm.
Some even died waiting in queues for their turn. Delhi resident Said-ur-Rehman, aged 48, was unable to exchange his old currency and died. Dharanikanta Bhowmick, a school teacher from Cooch Behar died after failing to withdraw money even after standing in queue for three consecutive days.
Meanwhile, the winter session of Rajya Sabha got off to a stormy start on Wednesday with a united opposition mounting an assault on the government over demonetisation, saying it had led to “economic anarchy” in the country and alleged selective leak of the information before the announcement which should be probed by a Joint Parliamentary Committee.
The government rejected as baseless the opposition charge that there was “leakage” of the November 8 decision and said everyone was taken by surprise which is why there are “initial” problems.
Joining ranks over the raging issue, parties like Congress, JD(U), RJD, SP, BSP, Trinamool Congress, Left and AIADMK slammed the government, particularly targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for making Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denomination notes invalid and said the “ill-timed” and “ill-conceived” step had severely hit the common people, the farmers and the poor.
During the course of 7-hour debate which remained inconclusive, there were repeated demands by the opposition members that the Prime Minister should be present in the House to listen to the members. Leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said Modi, who did not come to the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, should at least be present on Thursday and possibly intervene.
Initiating the debate, Congress leader Anand Sharma used wit and humour to attack Modi, saying he was “insensitive” to problems caused to the common man.
The “ill-timed” and “ill-conceived” move has unleashed “economic anarchy” in the country and benefited a few, he said.
“Your government is insensitive,” he said, adding Modi was riding a bullet train in Japan when old, women and common man were queueing up at banks at 3 am to get currency to buy their daily needs.
Earlier in the day, seeking immediate withdrawal of demonetisation exercise, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met President Pranab Mukherjee along with leaders of National Conference, AAP and NDA ally Shiv Sena and submitted a memorandum voicing serious concern over the crisis arising out of ban on Rs 1000 and Rs 500 currency notes.
Banerjee led a march to Rashtrapati Bhavan from Parliament along with TMC MPs, AAP MP Bhagwant Mann, Shiv Sena MP Harshul, NC leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah among others.
“We had a successful meeting with the President during which we discussed the issue. And the President said he would look into the matter,” she said, after emerging out of the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
She said the situation arising out of demonetisation has triggered a sort of constitutional crisis.
Speaking about her next move on the issue, she said “Our party will move adjournment motion in Lok Sabha”.
Expressing concern over the problems being faced by the people after the demonetisation move, she said “We have requested the President to speak to the government and decide on this and bring back normalcy in the country. President was once the Finance Minister and knows country’s situation better than anyone else, he will take appropriate action.”
Leaders of the other opposition parties including Congress, Left parties, SP and BSP did not take part in the protest march.
Describing as “dictatorial and draconian step” the government’s demonetisation move, the memorandum has sought its immediate suspension.
“Stop harassment of the common people by lifting of all sorts of restrictions recently thrust upon them,” the five-page memorandum said, and added “ensure that supply of essential commodities in adequate quantities be restored in the markets forthwith.”
Before beginning the march from Parliament, Mamata said “The march is to save common people from disaster.”
AAP MP Bhagwant Mann said the ban has affected the normal functioning of the household as there is no money available.
The Trinamool Congress supremo on Wednesday said her party will seek to move an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha over the problems faced by people following the demonetisation move.
Talking to reporters outside Rashtrapati Bhavan after leading a delegation of some opposition party leaders to meet President Pranab Mukherjee, Banerjee said her party was for tackling black money and accused the central government of implementing the demonetisation move without proper planning.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will address a public meeting in Azadpur Mandi in north Delhi on Thursday against the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee will also address the meeting.
- Queues continue in ATMs across country
- Oppn slams govt on ill-timed move, claims Nov 8 info leaked
- Govt defends demonetisation move
- TMC to move adjournment motion in Lok Sabha