The Opposition cornered the government over demonetisation on Monday as the Lok Sabha took up debate on the Motion of Thanks to President Pranab Mukherjee’s speech.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge slammed the government over its repeated allegation that it did not do anything for 70 years, and said: “We protected the Constitution. If Modi came from a poor family and became the Prime Minister, the credit goes to the Congress, which kept democracy alive.”
He also cornered the government over banning of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and said the Prime Minister should apologise to the nation for the deaths that occurred due to demonetisation.
The opposition leader said around 125 people have died in bank and ATM queues post demonetisation.
“So many people died, at least the Prime Minister should have apologised to the people. You can apologise even now,” he said.
Kharge said the government should inform the nation how much black money was recovered post demonetisation and added: “PM knew elections were coming, he wanted people to forget the promised Rs 15 lakh.”
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The around two-hour long speech of Kharge saw a few angry exchanges between the treasury benches and opposition as well.
Kharge said leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, and former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi had laid down their lives for the country. He said no one from the present ruling BJP died for the nation and also used “unparliamentary” language.
Even as Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said she would remove the comment from the records, it created an uproar in the treasury benches.
As ruling party members protested, Kharge said: “This is history, it is not unparliamentary.”
Instructing Kharge not to make such comments, Mahajan said: “You should not say something like this, many people have laid down their lives for the nation.”
An angry Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said Jana Sangh leaders like Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and Deendayal Upadhyay also died for the country, and said Kharge should apologise.
Union Minister Mahesh Sharma, who started the debate, blamed the Congress for being unable to eradicate poverty in 70 years post Independence.
“The governments before 2014 made promises of removing poverty but failed, and due to its directionless leadership the people of the country gave huge mandate to NDA,” the Culture Minister said.
Backing the demonetisation move, Sharma said: “The move was against counterfeit currency, terrorism, Naxals, but the opposition appeared to be standing with them. The whole nation welcomed it, but opposition did not.”
Opposition leaders, across party lines, were meanwhile critical of demonetisation.
Tinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy accused the union government of misusing CBI against its leaders because they vocally protested demonetisation.
“Trinamool has been protesting against the anti-people and anti-national step of demonetisation. The central government in turn, abusing the CBI, got our MPs Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Tapas Paul arrested.
“If through this political vendetta the ruling party thinks the Trinamool will cow down, then it is living in a fool’s paradise. We shall never surrender, we shall fight till this government is overthrown by the people. We will fight this government lock, stock and barrel,” added Roy.
Aam Aadmi Party member Bhagwant Mann said people would not vote for the BJP because of the note ban.
“You have done note bandi, people will do vote bandi,” Bhagwant Mann said.
He also accused the government of attacking the federal structure of the country.
On similar lines, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) member Jayprakash Narayan Yadav said: “Your government will lose because of demonetisation.”