Demonetisation Unites Opposition, Rattled BJP Calls Off PM Meet in Lucknow
NEW DELHI: The distress of the common citizen has driven the Opposition parties to unite insofar as protests and demonstrations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes. All political parties, including the AIADMK and regional rivals in Uttar Pradesh as well, have decided to join in a nationwide protest on November 28 against the move.
A rattled BJP has reportedly called off a publicised public meeting, scheduled to be addressed by PM Modi on November 24 in Lucknow. This has not been officially confirmed but source based reports suggest that a decision to this effect has been taken.
The queues outside banks and ATMs have not ended, the poor have been put to great hardship, the daily wagers have been losing money, the farmers have had to skip a sowing season for want of cash for seeds and fertilisers with the Opposition raising this issue every single day in Parliament since it convened. The Rajya Sabha has not conducted any business as a result, with the Opposition today demanding a statement from the Prime Minister that was not forthcoming. PM Modi was in the Lok Sabha for the first time but did not speak.
The Opposition formed a chain outside Parliament in protest against the move that all are agreed has caused great hardship to the common citizen. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee organised a public meeting in Delhi, where she was also joined by the Aam Aadmi Party and the Janata Dal(U). Interestingly, although Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been supporting PM Modi on this issue, his colleague Sharad Yadav has been vocal in his opposition, and joined Banerjee’s public meeting to express his views.
PM Modi addressed the BJP parliamentary party meeting earlier, appearing to break down again, and reiterating his sacrifice for the poor. Sources said that the parliamentarians are all very worried as the chaos shows no sign of letting up, with reports from UP of long queues worrying the party managers of the state going for the elections in a few months,
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been tweeting hard against PM Modi’s demonetisation and was the first to hold a meeting at Delhi’s Azad Market, along with Mamata Banerjee. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has attacked PM Modi for speaking at a rock concert and avoiding Parliament.
In the Rajya Sabha the Opposition leaders said that the PM was going against all opposition norms by ignoring the demand by them to speak. The government insisted that the discussion agreed to earlier should continue, and refused to concede the Opposition demand. Two weeks of unabated chaos, with deep distress being reported from the villages of India, has persuaded the Opposition to come together, regardless of specific rivalries, against the government measure.
Bahujan Samaj party leader Mayawati has been taking a lead in the Upper House to castigate the government as “pro rich”. Amidst reports of deepening chaos in Uttar Pradesh Mayawati has been supported by the other Opposition leaders, with all raising the demand for direct intervention by the Prime Minister. BJP allies including Shiv Sena, Akali Dal and Telugu Desam Party have all expressed concern in and outside Parliament. The Shiv Sena in fact, joined the Trinamool Congress march to the President Pranab Mukherjee last week, along with the National Conference but has subsequently turned around to support the government. TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu who was supportive earlier has now worried that the chaos has continued for too long.
Mayawati said the PM “does not have the courage” to face Parliament. The AIADMK that has been soft towards the government joined the Opposition on this issue. Shouting murdabad slogans against PM Modi, the opposition benches repeatedly stalled proceedings.