Opposition parties joined hands in protesting against demonetisation

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes resulted in a fallout that, probably, even the BJP did not expect. Opposition parties, in some cases even arch-rivals, joined hands in protesting against the decision and disrupted the functioning of both Houses of Parliament. They demanded the Prime Minister’s presence in the Upper House to address their concerns, a move that was outright rejected by the government.

 

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee launched a joint political offensive with her Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal, demanding the government roll-back its decision within three days. The government, through Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, ruled out any such possibilities. Mamata Banerjee, for most part of it, played a major role in bringing the opposition leaders together against the move. Earlier this week, she also reached out to CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, her political arch-rival back home. “The Prime Minister wants to make a plastic economy. But we won’t allow that. We will fight for people who are suffering,” she said in Delhi. “This is the biggest scam in independent India. Notes are being home-delivered to some people,” alleged Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Both leaders also knocked at the doors of the RBI, demanding answers.

 

Back in Parliament, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who hails from Kashmir, compared the deaths of people waiting for cash at ATMs with the death of soldiers in the Uri attack. His comments, which created a massive uproar, were expunged from the records. The BJP parliamentarians were prompt in calling him an ‘anti-national’.  Senior minister Venkaiah Naidu said the comments were “atrocious and anti-national” and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar demanded an unconditional apology, failing which, he threatened, the Upper House would not function.

 

With 5 states going to polls early next year, the winter session has already become a battleground with demonetisation being the weapon. However, three key bills for the rollout of GST are being held hostage in the process. Having set an April target to kickoff the tax reform, the government is now in a precarious situation.

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