Modi in line of fire as united opposition steps up attack (Roundup)

New Delhi, Nov 22 (IANS) A united opposition on Tuesday stepped up its attack on the government, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi, over demonetisation of high value currency. Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) took to the streets, while 10 political parties braced for a protest inside Parliament House on Wednesday.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, in a dig at Prime Minister Modi, questioned his alleged absence from both Houses of Parliament, which has been unable to function due to chaos over the demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes.

“Why is not the Prime Minister coming to Parliament? Why isn’t he coming to Parliament and speaking,” asked Gandhi.

“The Prime Minister can speak on TV, can speak at a pop concert, but why not in the Parliament,” asked Gandhi referring to Modi’s Saturday address at a Coldplay concert.

The Congress has announced a protest with 10 other opposition parties, including the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, Nationalist Congress Party, the Left parties, the Janata Dal-United, on Wednesday near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Parliament.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been at the forefront of the protests against demonetisation, will lead a protest at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Modi, ddressing the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting in the morning, urged the members to counter what he called “misinformation” being spread by the opposition parties on the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.

According to sources, the Prime Minister said the demonetisation decision is just a “beginning of the government’s crusade against black money and corruption”, and such type of actions will be continued.

Hundreds of Aam Aadmi Party took to the streets to protest the demonetisation move.

More than 50 AAP leaders, including Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, were detained – and then freed – after leading a protest, from near Jantar Mantar monument towards Parliament.

“Demonetisation has destroyed people’s lives while it has had no effect on black money,” Sisodia addressed the gathering. Delhi ministers Gopal Rai, Kapil Mishra and Satyendar Jain were also part of the protest.

Several AAP members of the Delhi assembly also joined the noisy protest, carrying placards demanding the reversal of the November 8 demonetisation of high value currency that has led to a cash chaos.

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena, which had joined the protest march led by Trinamool Congress earlier, took a complete U-turn in their stance on demonetisation. A delegation of Shiv Sena MPs met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and lauded the move as “a bold and historic decision” and assured their full support.Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday reiterated the opposition’s demand in the Rajya Sabha that Prime Minister Modi should attend the debate on demonetisation in the House.

The Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha said: “He (Modi) should listen to the debate.”

The Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI-M) on Tuesday blamed Prime Minister Modi for continued disruptions in Parliament over demonetisation, and claimed that Modi’s continued avoiding both Houses was a “contempt” of Parliament.

“If the discussion is on one of Prime Minister’s announcements, he should be there to listen to the debate…It is incumbent upon Prime Minister to come to both Houses on day one itself. But he is still not doing so,” CPI-M General Secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Sitaram Yechury said in a press conference here.