The government felt the heat on the demonetisation issue as a united Opposition upped its ante against the currency ban on Thursday. Launching a multi-pronged protest agenda, the opposition parties created ruckus in the Lok Sabha, urging the Speaker to suspend Lok sabha proceedings for day. Rajya Sabha also had to be adjourned four times till the time of writing this article. Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took the front outside the house, addressing a joint rally at the Azadpur vegetable wholesale market in New Delhi.
The duo, lashing out at the government, cried foul over the move to demonetise higher currency notes and alleged that there was a covert understanding between the government and big shot industrialists who were splurging billions on weddings and yet were nowhere to be seen in the serpentine queues.
Referring to mining baron Janardhan Reddy's daughter's wedding which saw many prominent politicians in attendance, Kejriwal took a dig at the government, asking why he should not think that the government was hand in glove with powerful industrialists. "While on one hand, they are offering the common man an alm of 2.5 crore for their children's wedding, Reddy splurged Rs 500 Crore on his daughter's wedding," Kejriwal said of the glittering affair that took place in the sprawling Palace Grounds in Bengaluru on Wednesday. "Who exchanged his notes worth of crores," Kejriwal wondered.
Demanding that the government take back the demonetisation decision in three days, he threatened of a simmering discontent amid people that will he said will soon take the shape of a revolt by the common man.
Addressing a public rally, Kejriwal alleged a conspiracy behind the spiking of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that has led to a cash chaos across the country.
He said the way government will curb corruption by eliminating 500 Rs note and reintroducing an even higher denomination was beyond his understating. Referring to his tenure in the Indian Revenue Service as a Joint Commissioner of the Income Tax Department, Kejriwal added in a mock tone that even he was mildly educated but the government's arguments in favour of demonetisation escapes his understanding.
"Do you think people are fools?" he asked rhetorically. "Don't fool us. Don't say that standing in queues (outside banks and ATMs) is patriotism... Take back this decision in three days... Don't test people's patience. Otherwise, there will be a bagawat (revolt) by people," he said.
The Aam Aadmi Party leader also blamed the government for the reported deaths of 40 people in the country that have been linked to the dramatic announcement of 8 November that the high value currency would no more be legal tender.
"Who is responsible for these 40 deaths?" he asked.
Kejriwal again hurled corruption allegations at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
There was a time, he said, when he too thought that Modi was an honest man. But Kejriwal flashed what he said were Income Tax department's documents to allege that two corporate houses had paid huge bribes to Modi when he was the Gujarat chief minister.
He alleged that according to the documents recovered from the Aditya Birla Group in an I-T raid in 2012, a note implicitly mentions that Rs 25 crore bribe was promised to the Gujarat CM (Narendra Modi held the office at the time) of which Rs 12 crore were paid.
He then read out another report prepared after a raid on the Sahara Group offcials, apparently bearing the seal of I-T commissioner and witnesses. The report, according to Kejriwal, mentions seven entries of over Rs 40 crore worth of transactions made in favour of Narendra Modi.
Alleging that the government had already written off loans worth of Rs one lakh crore taken by powerful industrialists, the government is now organising a farce in the name of curbing black money to force cash out of the markets into the empty coffers of banks. He went on to say that Modi hoped to amass at least Rs 10 lakh crore from people following demonetisation to make up for the massive losses the banks have suffered by giving out whopping loans to corporate houses that have now become bad debts.
The Bengal chief minister, on the other hand, attempted to whip up an emotional narrative in her speech, appealing to the everyday problems faced by the common man. "Have you were ever seen such crisis happen before? The government used to say ache din aayenge. Are these their ache din?" she asked.
"Transport section has come to a standstill. Vegetables and eatables are stuck in the market. If food items will not be available in the market, what will the people eat, diamonds or credit cards?" a distraught Banerjee asked.
"Prime Minister Modi has broken constitutional rules...Why did you (Modi) not make a proper plan before the implementation (of demonetisation)? Common man is suffering due to it. We are giving you three days. If you do not fix all problems, we will not leave you. We are still alive."
She said that the government's move to suck the markets dry of cash is nothing but insensitive mockery of the common man as only 4% of the people in India could operate on plastic currency, the remaining 96% are heavily cash dependent.
She also mocked the numerous foriegn tours of the prime minister stating, "Kuch din plane me chadh ke videsh kya ghum aaye desh ko plastic economy pe chalana chahte hain.. desh ki mitti ko yaha ke tariko ko bhul gaye (It seems that after spending a few days in foreign countries, Modi has forgotten the ways of our nation)."
She also ridiculed the idea of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the issue which will submit its report in seven days stating, "Kisi ko infection aaj hai to usko saline saat din baad chadhaoge kya? Ye kya mazak hai (If someone suffers from an infection today, will you inject him with saline seven days later? Is this a joke? )."
"You have won doesn’t mean you are above the Constitution. What is happening today has never happened even in emergency," Banerjee said, adding that this is not a clash of egos but a fight against dictatorship.
Banerjee said that people of the country had lost their trust in Modi. She added that her MPs were trying to bring an adjournment motion in the Parliament.
With inputs from agencies