Demonetisation deadlocks Parliament; opposition launches united attack (Roundup)

New Delhi, Nov 23 (IANS) Almost the entire opposition put up a united front against demonetisation on Wednesday paralysing Parliament’s functioning over the mode of discussion on the issue and the Prime Minister’s presence during debates on the issue.

Thirteen opposition parties, barring the Left and the Aam Aadmi Party, protested near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Parliament House premises. The Trinamool Congress held a rally at the Jantar Mantar here, attended by leaders of several opposition parties, including the Janata Dal-United, Samajwadi Party, Nationalist Congress Party and the Aam Aadmi Party.

The opposition also decided on a countrywide ‘Aakrosh Diwas’ protest on November 28 over the November 8 demonetisation move.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, who led the opposition protest, called demonetisation a “scam”.

Gandhi said the opposition wanted a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the issue.

“We feel this decision is a scam. The Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) had informed his close friends about this (demonetisation) before the announcement. We want a JPC to probe this,” Gandhi said during the protest along with leaders of 12 other opposition parties.

“What the Prime Minister has done is the world’s biggest impromptu financial experiment.

“He (Modi) can go to a pop concert and speak, but 200 MPs of the opposition are standing here to demand his presence,” Gandhi said.

Leaders from the Congress, Samajwadi Party, Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India, Janata Dal-United, Trinamool Congress, Nationalist Congress Party and the DMK protested outside Parliament.

The opposition members displayed placards carrying slogans like ‘Not a surgical strike, carpet bombing on common people’, ‘Demonetisation of hard-earned money’, ‘Save poor people’ and ‘Stop persecution of common people’.

Both houses of Parliament have seen repeated adjournments since the beginning of winter session on November 16 over demonetisation, that has triggered a cash chaos in the country.

In the Lok Sabha, opposition members want a debate under an adjournment motion, which entails voting.

In the Rajya Sabha, which started a debate on demonetisation on the first day, the opposition is seeking the presence of the Prime Minister in the house.

To break the logjam, the government has convened a meeting of floor leaders of different parties on Thursday.

The meeting will be attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu and Parliamentary Affairs Minister H.N. Ananth Kumar.

Accusing Modi of robbing the poor of their livelihood through demonetisation, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee said the BJP-led Centre had completely lost its credibility.

Addressing the protest rally at the Jantar Mantar, the West Bengal Chief Minister dubbed Modi a “Hitler” and said the country is not secure under his rule.

“With just one decision, you destroyed the entire country. Modi-ji, do you realise how people are starving? How people are forced to shut their shops? How farmers have been ruined? Do you realise how you have robbed their livelihood and driven the common people to the brink,” asked Banerjee.

“The situation now is worse than even during the Emergency. This government has lost all credibility; and once credibility is lost, everything is lost. The country is not secure under Modi. This government will have to go,” she said while addressing her second public meeting in the national capital within a week.

Taking a stand different from party President and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on demonetisation, former Janata Dal-United President Sharad Yadav participated in Banerjee’s protest rally.

Speaking on the occasion, Yadav flayed Modi for “evading” Parliament and demanded that the Prime Minister come to the house and account for — what the JD-U leader said were — the sufferings of the masses.

“Come to Parliament and tell us the reasons… tell why you wreaked havoc in the houses of farmers, fishermen, the poor, the common man. And if you don’t, then remember — the Congress once had imposed Emergency and people had given a befitting reply.

“You must have heard of revolution; people will show you what revolution means.”

In Kolkata, West Bengal Ministers and senior Trinamool Congress leaders participated in a massive protest rally organised by the state’s ruling party against demonetisation.