Demonetisation fallout: The Narendra Modi government finds itself cornered on the issue of demonetisation of old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. Ahead of the Parliament’s winter session most Opposition parties have vociferously opposed the move, demanding its rollback. The long queues outside banks and ATMs, and the current cash supply crunch is also adding to the ammunition with the Opposition. Nearly 30 protests are reported to have been planned outside the parliament as the Winter Session is about to begin on Wednesday. The government has been warned to remain prepared for protests and clashes inside the Parliament over the demonetisation drive, among other issues. We take a look at what the Opposition has been saying, and is planning for the days ahead:
1) West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee is ready to lead a march to Rashrapati Bhavan against Modi government’s demonetisation move. The march has been planned for November 16, that is the first day of the Parliament’s winter session. Banerjee has accused the Modi government of turning the people of the country into “beggars” with the demonetisation move. Mamata Banerjee said she would meet President Pranab Mukherjee on the issue irrespective of whether other parties join her or not. She indicated that National Conference leader Omar Abdullah is likely to join her in the march.
2) CPI(M) has snubbed Mamata Banerjee’s attempt to align with it on the demonetisation issue. The party wants the government to learn from Kerala and allow the use of old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes till December 31. CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury has said that the demonetisation move would “not yield the desired results” of tackling corruption. The demonetisation move was aimed at “diverting public attention from NDA government’s failure” to deliver on promises made by BJP and Modi before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, including that of bringing back black money, he said, adding it was intended to make political gains in the UP polls.
3) Congress is of the view that implementation of demonetisation move along with its alleged leakage to BJP should be questioned in both houses of Parliament. Congress leaders have alleged that prior information of demonetisation was given by the Prime Minister to his own party leaders and termed it as a “scam”. Congress has given notices for adjournment, short duration discussions and calling attention motion on various issues including demonetisation.
Congress Vice President has vehemently opposed the demonetisation drive, questioning not only its implementation, but also its rationale. Rahul Gandhi has asked how stopping Rs 1000 notes and introducing Rs 2000 notes will help check black money. He has accused the Prime Minister of being oblivious to the pain and inconvenience of the common man. Last week Rahul Gandhi even visited a bank in Delhi, and reportedly stood in the queue, to exchange Rs 4000 in old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes.
4) Reports suggest that Shiv Sena, BJP’s ally in the central government, may choose to walk with Mamata Banerjee against the demonetisation move. Shiv Sena has mocked PM Modi’s emotional pitch, in which had said that he is willing to put his life at risk to erradicate the black money menace. Shiv Sena said Modi’s decision to scrap high value currency notes would not put his life in danger unlike his predecessors Indira and Rajiv Gandhi who were assasinated while fighting for greater goals of the country.
“PM Modi is under a security which is impregnable, and where even a mosquito cannot bite him. Lives have been sacrificed by those innumerable freedom fighters for the nation. (Former PM) Indira Gandhi had waged a war against Khalistani anti-nationals, for which she paid by sacrificing her life,” the Sena said in an editorial in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’.
5) Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal will accompany Mamata Banerjee to Rashtrapati Bhavan. Kejriwal has supported Mamata Banerjee’s take that the demonetisation move is “draconian” in nature. Kejriwal has also been saying that the government is allowing rich people to get away, while inconveniencing farmers and traders. The Delhi Government convened an emergency session of the Delhi Assembly today to discuss the situation. Sticking to his demand that demonetisation be rolled back, the AAP chief has lashed out at Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, saying the Centre has lost “all sense of proportion due to lack of any concrete plan in executing the scheme.”
6) While declining to join any political party to meet President Pranab Mukherjee to apprise him of the chaos triggered by the Centre’s demonetisation move, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha has asserted that it would rather raise in Parliament the plight of the common people due to the currency note crisis. Soon after the announcement of withdrawal of old Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes on November 8, Odisha Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik had described Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s act of demonetisation of currency notes as a “bold step”.
7) Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has said that demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes will not serve the purpose of checking black money. The UP CM had even written to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to delay the step till November 30. Batting for farmers hit by the Centre’s sudden demonetisation move, Yadav has also urged PM Modi to make special arrangements for the farmers who are in the middle of the winter cropping season.
Even as most of Opposition stands united, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has “welcomed and supported” the Centre’s decision to withdraw Rs 1000 and Rs 500 currency notes saying it would help country’s economy in the long run.
(With inputs from Agencies)