The opposition parties have joined hands to organise a nation-wide protest on 28 November against Narendra Modi government's move that demonetised old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000.
The opposition parties including Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Samajwadi Party (SP), Trinamool Congress (TMC), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) announced the decision to hold the 'All India Protest', called Aakrosh Diwas, on Wednesday, after more than 200 MPs joined together to form a human chain in front of Mahatma Gandhi's statue outside the Rajya Sabha to protest demonetisation.
Where will the protests take place
Based on the comments of the various parties who form the Opposition, the protests are likely to take place in all central government offices in districts and state capitals as well as outside banks.
United in stand, divided in methods
Though the Opposition remains united in its stand to protest against demonetisation, the parties have decided to adopt their own methods. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) released a statement on Wednesday stating that it would take part in "mass demonstrations, dharnas, picketing of RBI and Central government offices, rasta rokos, rail rokos, commercial and general hartal etc".
DMK party chief, M Karunanidhi told PTI that the party will organise "massive protest demonstrations outside central government offices in all the districts" of Tamil Nadu. Congress, on the other hand, plans to organise protests in not only districts and state capitals but also in front of banks, NDTVreported.
Similar methods are expected to be used by other parties as well.
Why not protest as a united group?
During the meeting on Wednesday when the nationwide protest was announced, differences emerged on whether and when to meet President Pranab Mukherjee, The Indian Expressreported. Incidentally, the Left is not very keen on meeting the President.
As a result of which the Opposition parties have decided to organise the nationwide protest in their own way, but on the same day. They would be “marching separately and striking together”, said CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury quoting Mao, the report said.
What's the goal?
So, far different opposition parties have given different statements on their principal demands, but what is clear so far is none are happy with PM's demonetisation move. Here's what some of the main demands are:
— Allow old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 for all white transactions: In a statement released on Wednesday, the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said that the principal demand for the party is that "the Rs 1000 and Rs 500 rupee notes should be allowed for all legal transactions, payments and settlements .... till alternative arrangements of making new currency notes available is put in place or till 30 December". Yechury on Thursday also said that in three sectors associated with exports, around 4 lakh people have lost their jobs since the move was announced.
— Joint Parliamentary committee investigation on alleged leaks on the move: Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said that the Oppostion wants a joint parliamentary committee investigation on alleged selective leak about the demonetisation announcement. "Ahead of this decision, bank deposits surged drastically. BJP's organisation in Bengal and other states knew of it. FM did not know but the BJP organisation knew. BJP's industrialist friends knew," the Congress leader said on Wendesday, as reported by News18.
— PM should address the Parliament, and name those who died due to demonetisation: Another major demand of the opposition was that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should address the parliament in both houses on the issue of demonetisation and offer a condolence of those who died. According to News18, a condolence was offered on first day of the Parliament but since the names were not mentioned, the Opposition has refused to accept it.
— A debate on demonetisation: The Opposition on Wednesday said that it want a debate on both houses of the Parliament, and that Prime Miniser Narendra Modi should be present during it. While BJP has agreed for a debate, Congress has alleged that the opposition leaders are not allowed to speak.
However, on Thursday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that that the government is ready for any debate in both houses, and alleged that it's the opposition that is running away from it by adding new conditions to the debate. "We are ready for any debate on both the houses. The steps which we have taken are the right steps, and they were taken in the right manner," he said, adding that the opposition just want to disrupt and not debate.
— TMC leader Mamata Banerjee wants a total rollback of the demonetisation move, which the BJP government has denied. Speaking at the Jantar-Mantar on Wednesday, she said, "Power me rehne se aankhen or kaan bandh hojate hain. Itni badi akad hai inme. (The government has closed its eyes and ears since gaining power. They have a lot of attitude)," International Business Timesreported.
Should you be concerned?
Yes, very much. As if the problems due to demonetisation weren't enough, a nationwide protest which also includes (rasta rokos and rail rokos) would mean more public inconvenience.
The queues outside banks and ATMs have not shortened, if protesters join in, the problem may only increased further. India has very poor track record of peaceful protests. The anger and frustration in the public could be further fuelled by protesters with mostly political voertones. And the fact that Road and rail blockades are also part of the CPI(M) agenda, it may affect transportation.
With inputs from PTI