Mamata's Party Shakes Hands With Left
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool has spearheaded the effort to bring opposition parties together against the government's decision, suspending her antipathy to the Left for opposition unity as the winter session of Parliament begins this week.
Trinamool leaders said they are attempting to gather about 100 opposition lawmakers to march on Wednesday from parliament to presidential palace Rashtrapati Bhawan to petition the President against the government's notes ban and demand that it be revoked.
The party has also sought that all other work be suspended in the Rajya Sabha or Upper House as soon as parliament convenes on Wednesday, to discuss hardships faced by people because of a cash crunch since Prime Minister Narendra Modi suddenly pulled 500 and 1,000 rupee notes in an evening announcement on November 8.
There has been chaos and anger as currency notes have been rationed in new rules, leading to long lines at banks and ATMs and opposition parties have accused the government of being "anti-poor."
"The government has shut the country, it's like the BJP organised a Bharat bandh," said Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, while Sitaram Yechury of the CPM and Delhi chief minister attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for saying in a speech today that "poor people are sleeping peacefully after the decision".
The Congress' Randeep Singh Surjewala said: "Entire country has been plunged in economic anarchy by a dictatorial and autocratic Prime Minister and his government. And it is our duty to raise and champion the voice of the people."
The BJP's parliamentary executive too is meeting today to formulate a counter strategy, before meeting allies in the National Democratic Alliance. The party faces potential trouble from allies like the Shiv Sena, which has criticised the move and the Shiromani Akali Dal, with the demonetisation impacting election funding just ahead of assembly elections in Punjab.
The government is firm that its demonetisation decision is pro-poor and designed only to punish those who have black or untaxed money. PM Modi has in speeches said his government's fight against corruption will carry on, hitting hard at the Congress at a rally in Uttar Pradesh today for its criticism.
PM Modi said he was "pained by the inconvenience caused and that is why I am working tirelessly to help people overcome this." He had met top ministers and officials beyond midnight in a review of the demonetisation scheme and its impact yesterday, to see how the problems being faced by people can be eased.
On Tuesday, the government has called for an all-party meeting to thrash out a broad agenda for the Winter Session. It will have to give in to the opposition's demand for an immediate debate to ensure minimum disruption of the session and the support it needs to push two bills related to its mega reform the Goods and Services Tax, a unified tax it hopes to implement by April 1 next year.