Unfazed by the absence of leaders of the Left, JD(U), SP and BSP, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee along with some regional parties on Tuesday sought to raise the pitch against demonetisation by demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Both Gandhi and Banerjee said that it would be a nation-wide movement. Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, who has been at the forefront of the anti-demonetisation battle claimed on Tuesday that the movement would not be confined to the national capital and opposition parties would be holding two meetings in both the eastern and southern parts of the country possibly in January 2017.
The Bengal CM said she had individually spoken to Omar Abdullah, Lalu Prasad, Arvind Kejriwal and Uddhav Thackeray.
After the eight-party meeting, the leaders also sought a probe into the issue of “personal corruption” of Modi with Gandhi insisting that a “free and fair” inquiry was needed to maintain the credibility of the Prime Minister’s post.
Banerjee, whose presence rescued the Congress’ plan of replicating the opposition unity witnessed in Parliament recently on the note ban issue, virtually stole the show by placing the resignation demand, a position subsequently echoed by Gandhi.
Both Gandhi and Banerjee spoke of a “common minimum agenda” being evolved to take the opposition unity forward even as he downplayed the absence of several other parties, including the Left, from Tuesday’s meet which preceded the press conference. Escalating the attack on Modi, Gandhi described the note ban as a “single arbitrary financial experiment in the history of the world that affected 1.3 billion people” and asked him to explain the “real” reason for implementing it and take responsibility for giving pain to people.
He also raised the demand that Modi answer the charges of “personal corruption” made against him in the wake of his name allegedly figuring in the “Sahara and Birla diaries”
“Will you take responsibility for demonetisation and resign. Will you resign from Prime Ministership,” Banerjee asked, as she termed demonetisation as a “mega scam” in the name of “achhe din” (good days).
The West Bengal Chief Minister said that 47 days are over and only three days are left in the 50-day period sought by Modi for the return of normalcy post the note ban.
“He is not a magician to perform magic. No miracle will happen. You promised to bring ‘achhe din’. Are these ‘achhe din’? In the name of cashless, Modi government has become faceless and baseless.
“Demonetisation is not a small issue. If the government becomes weak, the country is weakened,” she said.
Asked what if the PM did not resign, Gandhi said, “If he does not resign, we will put pressure on him to resign.”
The Congress leader said, “It was on the Prime Minister’s personal initiative that this arbitrary financial experiment was carried out for the first time in the world history that affected 1.3 billion people. Such an experiment was never done even during Mao’s reign in China.”
Gandhi also claimed that demonetisation has made no impact on black money and dubbed it as “an attack on financial independence” and poor people of the country.
“PM should come out with the real aim of demonetisation and answer who is responsible for the suffering of the poor and what is he doing for those who have been hit. The aim of demonetisation has failed.
The parties whose representatives were present at Tuesday’s meeting were RJD, DMK, JD-S, JMM, IUML and AIUDF, besides the Congress and Trinamool Congress.
In the just-concluded Parliament session, Gandhi brought together a total of 16 opposition parties on the note ban issue, some of which distanced themselves after his meeting with the Prime Minister on December 16 on farmers’ issues.