Opposition steps up attack on demonetisation outside Parliament (Roundup)

New Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) Major opposition parties, including the Congress and Trinamool Congress, on Wednesday took on the Narendra Modi government outside Parliament over the acute problems faced by people following the “financial calamity” unleashed by the demonetisation move.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is also the Trinamool supremo, and leaders of three other parties including the Shiv Sena, an NDA constituent, sought President Pranab Mukherjee’s intervention on the issue while Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi trained his guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and demanded action against “his friends” and those who are hoarding black money.

Joined by the leaders of the National Conference, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Shiv Sena, Banerjee and 40 of her Trinamool MPs marched to Rashtrapati Bhavan and submitted a memorandum demanding rollback of demonetisation of Rs 500 and 1,000 currency notes.

However, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal gave the march a miss, with MP from Punjab Bhagwant Mann representing the AAP.

“I appeal to you on behalf of the toiling masses, those who eke out a living by trading in small goods and services and those from the villages of India, to use your highest office to intervene and stop this financial chaos and insecurity and protect them from a situation which is more than an unannounced financial emergency,” the memorandum to the President said.

Later, talking to reporters, Banerjee said the “big black scheme” has led to many deaths across the country and resulted in a loss of Rs 2 lakh crore to the GDP.

“This is a big black scheme. Today there are no vegetables in the market, no milk for babies and no medicine for the sick and the ailing. Around 20-30 people have already died, many of them due to stress,” she said, and also called for a probe into the rise of the banks’ non-performing assets.

Equating Modi with the medieval-era Delhi Sultan Muhammad Bin Tughlaq, Banerjee ridiculed “the totally unplanned” demonetisation move.

“Now ATM means ‘Aayega toh milega’,” she said and hoped the President will take appropriate steps.

“The President gave us a patient hearing, he was the country’s Finance Minister, no one can understand the situation better than him. So, we hope he will take appropriate action,” said Banerjee.

National Conference’s Omar Abdullah was among leaders who took part in the march that started from Parliament House premises.

The Shiv Sena, which has been critical of demonetisation, was represented by MP Anandrao Adsul, who said the Sen was not against the decision to demonetise currency but at the way it was implemented.

“On that (implementation), we are supporting Trinamool Congress. The decision should have been implemented with proper preparations,” Adsul told IANS.

Besides in Parliament, the Congress also chose to take up the issue with the masses.

Addressing a large group of party activists in Maharashtra’s Bhiwandi, Gandhi alleged that in the past couple of years, Modi has waived off over Rs 110,000 crore of loans to a small group of industrialists, with whose help the country is being run.

“Now, through demonetisation, he has taken money from each citizens’ pockets to give it to these industrialists who are his friends… No action has been taken against them. We demand action against Modi’s friends and those who have hoarded black money,” he said.

Gandhi predicted that the money collected from the public after demonetisation would go back into the pockets of those 15-20 industrialists and others “within one year”.

When he asked the gathering if they had got their Rs 4,000 (the value in old notes that can be changed at one time) or the indelible ink mark?, the people roared back “No”.

Noting that each and every citizen in the country was suffering today because of demonetisation, Gandhi said that Modi “is laughing and crying” although no industrialists or black money hoarder stands in the long queues to exchange their old notes.

Meanwhile, Delbi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who attacked Modi for “cheating the country”, announced he will address a public meeting in Azadpur Mandi in north Delhi on Thursday against demonetisation.

Banerjee will also address the meeting.