United Opposition close ranks on demonetisation
A united opposition on Wednesday protested against demonetisation outside Parliament as Mamata Banerjee hit the streets of Delhi once again demanding the Prime Minister’s ouster as “country was not safe in his hands”, but the government ruled out revoking the exercise, declaring rolling back something is “not in Modi’s blood”.
Opposition parties have called for a countrywide protest on November 28 against the cash crunch faced by the public. Earlier on Wednesday morning, opposition party MPs gathered at Mahatma Gandhi’s statue outside Parliament and marched together after linking their arms to form a human chain.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who had taken up cudgels against Modi on the issue, termed demonetisation of high-value currency notes as the world’s “biggest impromptu financial experiment” about which even the Finance Minister and the Chief Economic Adviser were clueless before the announcement was made.
He reaffirmed the demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into alleged leak of demonetisation decision prior to its announcement by Modi, and participation of the Prime Minister in a debate on the exercise.
Meanwhile, in a show of strength, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday rallied four parties behind her with a demonstration against demonetisation and attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying the government must go because the country was not safe in his hands.
Flanked by leaders of SP, JD-U, NCP and AAP, Banerjee addressed a gathering at Jantar Mantar where she alleged the BJP dispensation had lost all its “credentials and credibility” because of the currency restrictions.
“This government will have to go...I am sorry to say, the country is not secure under you Modiji. You do things at your whims and fancies,” she said.
Banerjee alleged that abolition of high-value currency notes had heaped pain on people and snatched away democratic rights of almost every section of the society including farmers, youth, women, labourers and traders, besides halting the country’s economic growth.
Accusing the BJP-led dispensation of “looting” the common man, she wondered why those having Swiss bank accounts were “not touched at all”, and warned that people will teach a “good lesson” to the ruling party in the upcoming assembly polls for implementing a “black law”.
“I can challenge that no one will vote for BJP. If I were you (PM), I would have apologised to the public. Why are you are so egoistic? You have branded everyone in the country a black marketeer and have yourself turned into a saint ,” she said.
In his address, JD-U leader Sharad Yadav questioned the legality of the demonetisation exercise and challenged the Prime Minister to explain to the Parliament how the decision will benefit the country. The presence of Yadav at the protest assumes significance as Bihar Chief Minister and JD-U chief Nitish Kumar continues to support the measure. The protest was also addressed by SP’s Dharmendra Yadav, AAP’s Raghav Chadha and NCP’s Majid Memon.
Referring to Tuesday’s bypoll results, the TMC chief said BJP’s victory margins have come down significantly in Madhya Pradesh and that Modi has left the country in the lurch (Modiji ne desh ka barah baja diya).”
She said she will support a country-wide protest called by the Opposition parties on November 28 against demonetisation.
Unfazed by the protests and continued stalling of Parliament, government rejected outright the possibility of withdrawing the exercise midway.
“Wapas lena Modi ji ke khoon mein nahi hai (Roll back is not in Modiji’s blood,” Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu asserted, making clear that the decision to withdraw the old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes “will not be taken back in any situation”.
Naidu, however, said the government was “ready to make improvements” in easing the difficulties faced by the common people. Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh accused Modi of being “too arrogant” and said that “does not augur well” for democracy.
Opposition snubs govt overtures
In a bid to break the logjam in Parliament over demonetisation, government on Wednesday reached out to the Opposition with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar holding talks with Congress and TMC leaders.
Opposition leaders were, however, cool to the government overtures. There were even rumours of the TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee being sounded out by the PMO on a possible one-to-one meeting with Modi.
“These are merely rumours. It is an attempt to break opposition unity. The PM should take all opposition parties into confidence,” Banerjee said.
Kumar and some other leaders in the government will continue deliberations with floor leaders of various political parties on Thursday. “Nothing has been achieved by holding up the Parliament proceedings. Everybody feels that there should be action against black money.
The opposition parties apprehensions are about only implementation of demonetisation, we have been saying that we are ready to listen to their concerns. “I have again requested them to start discussion where they can express their view points on this issue, which government will listen and consider,” Kumar said.
The government’s action comes in the backdrop of continued stalling of both the Houses of Parliament by the opposition which is demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence and participation in the debate on demonetisation. Government sources indicated that Modi may be present in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.