Parliamentary democracy under 'severe threat', Opposition tells President
A host of opposition leaders, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi, submitted a memorandum to Mukherjee expressing shock over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's refusal to make a statement on the 'draconian' demonetisation decision.
"It is unfortunate and unprecedented that the government itself has been deliberately disrupting and forcing adjournments of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. This is being done at the behest of senior ministers.
"Moreover, the Prime Minister has misled the nation by blaming the opposition," the parties said in the memorandum to Mukherjee.
"We are deeply concerned that the parliamentary democratic system itself is under severe threat," they said, claiming that their repeated efforts to debate and discuss the adverse fallout of demonetisation in parliament was stonewalled by the government.
While a host of opposition parties, including the Trinamool Congress and the Janata Dal-United, participated in the meet, the Left Parties gave it a miss saying that the President has "no role to play in the matter".
The parties said the government's November 8 demonetisation move has created a "deep crisis" in the country, with millions affected by it.
"More than 97 people have lost their lives across the states while queuing up outside banks and ATMs," they said.
The parties also expressed shock over Modi's failure to make a statement on the demonetisation issue, informing all the lawmakers about the rationale behind the announcement, process of rollout and the way in which the pain of the masses can be alleviated.
"We were shocked when no such statement was forthcoming from the Prime Minister, as is the convention in parliamentary procedure," they said.
Talking to the media after the meeting, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge accused the government of violating all democratic norms.
"This government has endeavoured to break every principle of democracy and the entire responsibility of not allowing parliament to function lies with the government," he said.
He asserted that the opposition's repeated efforts to discuss in parliament the plight of the common people due to demonetisation was not paid heed to by the government.
"While the poorest of the poor continue to suffer, this government has avoided a discussion in parliament. They have not even categorically explained why the discussion could not take place," said Trinamool lawmaker Sudip Bandyopadhyay.
Among the leaders to participate in the meet were Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav and Trinamool Rajya Sabha member Derek O'Brien.
Giving the reason for the Left parties skipping the meet, Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said: "We have already said that the President can't do much in this mater. We should rather reach out to the masses."
Earlier this month, 16 opposition parties had petitioned Mukherjee over the passage of the Income Tax Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha without any discussion.