Will the Centre answer?
The timeline set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring normalcy to cash flow, which stood disrupted following the scrapping of the currency notes of the value of Rs 500 and Rs 1000, is to elapse in two days’ time. However, the government rationing on the withdrawal from the bank accounts and the ATM kiosks, if cash is available at all, continues. This certainly makes a case of the government being unable to keep its promise on the matter, made by no less a person than the Prime Minister himself. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the foremost and most steadfast opponent of the Centre’s demonetisation policy, has rightly put some posers to the Prime Minister. “Will you take responsibility for demonetisation and resign. Will you resign from Prime Ministership,” Banerjee asked at a Press briefing on Tuesday last as she tried to cobble together Opposition unity in the matter even as the principal Opposition Congress failed in its initiative. 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. While announcing her detailed agitation plan against the maverick moves of the Modi government on the economic front, the Trinamool Congress leader also made some telling observations on the approach of the Centre vis-à-vis protests lodged by the Opposition. Banerjee compared the PM to screen villain ‘Gabbar’ (from all-time biggest Bollywood hit Sholay, essayed by Amjad Khan). Accusing the government of creating problems for opposition leaders, from Mayawati to Sonia Gandhi, she said, “If we say something, they say ‘Gabbar aa jayega’ (the villain would come)." So convincing was Banerjee’s articulation of her opposition to Centre’s demonetisation move that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi too was forced to come around and support West Bengal CM’s demand for PM’s resignation. Gandhi initially had distanced himself from the resignation demand, calling it “Mamata’s suggestion” and saying the PM must answer for the hardships resulting from his “personal initiative”. But as Banerjee raised the pitch, Gandhi too embraced the demand and — asked for a second time what if Modi did not oblige — retorted, “If he does not resign, we will put pressure on him to resign.” The Centre must realise that in Banerjee, it has a very tough customer, who would keep up the heat as she is convinced about the whole move being part of a scam. The earlier Centre puts its house in order, the better for its health.