A month after demonetisation, Rahul Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee led a fresh opposition offensive against Narendra Modi, calling it a "foolish decision" and a "one man-made economic disaster", even as the prime minister hailed the campaign as a yagna against corruption and black money.
As exchanges between rival parties escalated, both inside and outside Parliament, over scrapping of high denomination notes, the BJP hit back at the Congress vice-president, saying he was levelling baseless charges on almost daily basis to grab headlines.
Leaders of opposition parties observed a 'Black Day' in Parliament to mark one month of the announcement of demonetisation by Modi on 8 November, with Gandhi launching a scathing attack on the prime minister, saying his "foolish decision" has "devastated" the country.
Besides Congress, leaders of all opposition parties including TMC, CPI(M), CPI, JD(U) and Samajwadi Party joined the protest wearing black band on their arms. "The prime minister took this so-called bold decision. The bold decision can also be a foolish decision. And this was a foolish decision, it has devastated the country. More than 100 people have died. Farmers, fishermen, daily wage earners have been hit hard," Gandhi told reporters.
Facing opposition onslaught, Modi took to Twitter to assert that the "short term pain" will pave the way for "long term gains" and insisted that farmers, traders and labourers stand to gain from this step.
In a series of tweets, Modi spoke about the benefits of demonetisation and said the country has a "historic opportunity" to embrace increased cashless payments.
"I salute the people of India for wholeheartedly for participating in this ongoing 'yagna' against corruption, terrorism & black money," he said.
"Together, we must ensure #IndiaDefeatsBlackMoney. This will empower the poor, neo-middle class, middle class &
benefit future generations," Modi tweeted.
"I always said that the government's measure will bring a degree of inconvenience but this short term pain will pave way for long term gains," he added.
He said the decision has several gains for farmers, traders, labourers, "who are the economic backbone of our nation" and "no longer will the progress and prosperity of rural India be curtailed by corruption & black money. Our villages must get their due".
Holding the prime minister solely responsible for the "present economic disaster" in the country caused by demonetisation, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banejee said the central government got "totally derailed" under Modi.
"The PM doesn't trust anyone. There is no teamwork. He doesn't understand what is good for the country. He did not consult the experts. It is a one-man dictatorship. It is a one man-made disaster. It is a dangerous tendency," the TMC supremo told a press conference in Kolkata.
Information and broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu hit out at the Congress-led Opposition for observing the 'Black Day' against demonetisation, saying they are actually observing a "Black Money Support Day".
BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma alleged that Gandhi's charges against the Modi government are borne out of his incompetence and arrogance. "He is competing with Arvind Kejriwal in TRP politics by levelling baseless charges on almost daily basis. He is doing so merely for headlines," he said.
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury also held Modi "singularly responsible" for the "mess" in the economy due to demonetisation.
Updated Date: Dec 08, 2016 18:06:29 IST