'Demonetisation leaked to preferred few': Congress, TMC, Left rally against Modi; stormy Winter Session tomorrow

With frustration over the cash crunch mounting, Parliament looks set to witness a firestorm of protest on the issue of demonetisation when it meets for the Winter Session on Wednesday, with a joint opposition having readied itself to put the government on the mat. Asserting that the government has launched a "crusade" against corruption and black money by demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday sought Opposition's cooperation while his rivals called the decision ill-prepared and hasty which has caused "economic chaos".

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged the decision to invalidate Rs 1,000/500 currency notes was leaked in advance to some people, including BJP leaders, and called it probably the "biggest scam".

He, however, added that his party is not for its rollback.

In his concluding remarks at the all-party meeting on the eve of the Winter Session, Modi spoke in support of simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assemblies polls and that there should be state-funding of elections as he asked parties to debate the issue.

The government is willing to discuss all issues and answer the questions raised by the opposition, Modi said, hoping for a fruitful session as he recalled the passage of the GST Bill in the last session with the cooperation of all parties.

"We have launched a crusade against corruption, black money and fake currency, which is also behind cross-border terrorism. All parties should come together on this issue of national interest," he said.

Though Mamata Banerjee's TMC failed to build a consensus on her party's proposed to march to Rashtrapati Bhawan on Wednesday itself to protest demonetisation of high-value currency notes, 13 parties led by main opposition Congress resolved to vigorously raise the issue of hardship faced by the common people due to the exercise aimed at squeezing out black money from the system.

As ATMs struggled in disgorging cash and banks appeared crumbling under pressure due to demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bills, a Congress-led opposition went into a huddle to devise ways to pin down the government on the issue.

About Mamata Banerjee deciding to go ahead with her proposed march to Rashtrapati Bhawan, Azad said, she had sought an appointment with the President as a Chief Minister. "She is within her right to go to the President alone, but when we go to him together, TMC will be a part of it."

Demonetisation leaked to preferred few: Congress, TMC, Left rally against Modi; stormy Winter Session tomorrow

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairs all party meeting with other senior leaders ahead of Winter Session in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI

Various parties have separately given adjournment notices in Lok Sabha and for suspension of proceedings in Rajya Sabha to discuss the issue and highlight the plight of the common man.

Meanwhile, the Delhi assembly passed a resolution demanding a roll back of the demonetisation exercise.

As the government came under attack, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said a revolutionary or transformative step may have initial hiccups, but it gives long-term gains.

He said the demonetisation of higher currency notes had to be implemented with all secrecy as otherwise the people would have "taken care of" their ill-gotten wealth.

"There is need for ending parallel economy. Our neighbour is hiding, abetting, funding and training terrorists. There is 20 lakh crore of rupees of counterfeit currency in India which is weakening our economy. There are also arm dealers, smugglers...," he said, addressing a legislators' workshop in Delhi on infrastructure in the states.

The move will also curb Maoist operations as they "thrive" on black money.

Hitting out at the opposition, BJP said while Prime Minister Narendra Modi was working to curb black money and corruption with his demonetisation exercise, rival parties had "ganged up" against him.

Terming demonetisation as a 'surgical strike' on black money, BJP National Secretary Shrikant Sharma claimed that the general public is in the support of the move and now it has taken a shape of "people's movement".

He added that despite difficulties, the common man is supporting the decision.

Mamata Banerjee, however, unleashed a tirade against the government on the issue, saying the people have been reduced to "beggars" after having to stand in long queues to withdraw their own hard earned money.

"Tomorrow I am meeting the President on demonetisation issue. I will be meeting him with 40 of my MPs. I have spoken to various political parties. I have spoken to Rahul Gandhi, Nitish Kumar, Naveen Patnaik, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Arvind Kejriwal.

"If they want to join me, it is good. If not, then I will go alone with my MPs. National Conference leader Omar Abdullah is likely to join me," Banerjee told reporters at Kolkata airport here before leaving for New Delhi.

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram of Congress ridiculed the demonetisation move, saying banks doling out cash to citizens was "proof" that 'achhe din' have arrived.

In a series of tweets, the senior Congress leader also took a dig at the Modi government on the way it was implementing the scheme, remarking that "millions of working people standing in queue. Long live productivity".

Shiv Sena, an NDA constituent which has been targeting the Modi government on demonetisation, said party leader Uddhav Thackeray was in touch with Mamata Banerjee on the issue.

"Mamata Banerjee and Uddhav ji are in touch. This is not a political issue but something which concerns people. Shiv Sena will do whatever it can to ease the hardship of people," its Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said.

In a sarcastic take on the emotional pitch of Modi over demonetisation, Shiv Sena said his 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.

Making an emotional appeal at a function in Goa on 13 November, Modi had said that there were certain forces up against him that may not let him live and destroy him completely due to his decision on demonetisation and asserted that he was ready to face any consequence but would not get bogged down even if he was burnt alive.

"PM Modi is under a security which is impregnable 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', edited by Raut.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, in a controversial take on demonetisation said economists were of the opinion that black money helped the Indian economy in times of global recession.

"I am very clear on this...black money should not be generated. Economic experts say the magnitude of the global economic crisis at times is not felt in India because of strong (parallel) economy of black money," he said in Lucknow.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar briefed the reporters about Modi's remarks.

Speaking about simultaneous polls, he said, "A crucial problem is how to make political funding transparent. How to implement state funding of elections. Let all political parties debate it and come to a conclusion. Let's remove the question mark which exists against those in public life. Polls happen separately. Let there be one election, simultaneous elections," he said, seeking a consensus on the issue.

Azad told reporters that opposition parties, including TMC, SP, BSP, JD(U), RJD and others, are "united" and will remain so. Any government's move to break the unity will not succeed, he said. "We are all against black money. The government has completely failed in bringing back black money parked overseas as BJP had promised before the Lok Sabha polls. Demonetisation move was ill-prepared and very hasty, causing economic chaos. People from Kashmir to Kanyakumari are suffering," he said, adding that some have died while standing in queues outside banks.

Alleging that the decision was "leaked" in advance to select people, he said it is a big scam, probably biggest in India. Parliament will have to think what kind of enquiry is required, he said.

He also wondered if the move was an economic "surgical strike" to kill the opposition ahead of state assembly polls and to benefit BJP. Though parties like TMC and AAP have sought rollback of the decision to declare Rs 1,000/500 notes invalid, Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress' leader in the Lok Sabha, insisted that their party is not for it.

Azad insisted that there is no division in opposition ranks and TMC will be "part and parcel" of its joint strategy. JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said opposition parties were "disturbed and angry" the government had caused massive "inconvenience" to the common man with its unplanned action. "I proposed that opposition parties in Parliament make demand for a JPC probe into the matter. All opposition parties in one voice were in agreement that this unplanned and immature action of the government should be exposed...," he said in a statement.

After a long time all opposition parties have come together and it would be in the interest of the country to launch protests at various places either together or separately to disseminate information about the Centre's failures, he said.

During the meeting, BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab referred to massive participation of students in board exams in Kashmir, a development welcomed by leaders of various parties with thumping of table.

With inputs from PTI and IANS

Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.

Updated Date: Nov 15, 2016 21:16:24 IST

Also See