New Delhi– The winter session of Parliament is all set to start on a stormy note with the opposition joining hands to take on the government over the demonetisation decision even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged them to cooperate in the larger national interest.
However, the Lok Sabha will not function on Wednesday as it is likely to be adjourned after obituary reference to sitting MP Renuka Sinha who passed away in August.
To corner the government, leaders from the Congress, Trinamool Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party, Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India, Nationalist Congress Party, Janata Dal-United and Rastriya Janataa Dal met in Parliament House ahead of the all-party meet called by the government, and decided to raise voice against demonetisation in unison in Parliament.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Benarjee also arrived in the capital to lodge her protest over the issue. The Trinamool Congress supremo, who is virtually at war with the Modi government, also got a shot in the arm when BJP ally Shiv Sena decided to join its march to Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday to press for rollback of the currency spike decision.
Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah are also to participate in the march.
While Banerjee herself reached out to several prominent opposition party leaders, including Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, these parties refused to be part of the march.
On the eve of the session, Modi chaired an all-party meeting where he sought cooperation from the opposition for smooth running of the session.
“The Prime Minister has appealed to all parties to use the session to express their views, and debate and discuss important issues of public interest,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar told reporters.
“He also recalled how all the parties supported the government in getting the GST (Goods and Services Tax) Bill passed. Similarly, this is a fight against corruption and fake currency, so all parties should support it,” he said.
Ananth Kumar emphasised that the discussions were “cordial” and that the government is ready to discuss “all issues” that the opposition wants to raise.
However, the political parties declined to oblige, pointing to the inconvenience being caused to the masses by the government’s demonetisation decision.
Flaying the demonetisation decision, Rahul Gandhi said that “it was based on one person’s thinking and could turn out be a mega scam”.
“The big black money players have been allowed to go scot free by the Prime Minister… People like (Vijay) Mallya and Lalit Modi are sitting abroad,” he told media persons in Mumbai.
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad stressed that the opposition is united against demonetisation, but added that the Congress is not seeking a rollback of the decision.
“We are against the black money. It is not our case that the old currency notes should be continued. But we are concerned about the great inconvenience being caused to the common people,” he told media persons after the all-party meet.
“Millions and millions of people are on the roads, there is an economic chaos across the country,” he said, adding the opposition will raise the issue in both houses.
Noting that all opposition parties are against black money, he said that while all want black money out, this method is wrong.
Azad also said this might lead to unearthing of the biggest scam of the NDA government.
“There was selective leakage. Some people knew about it,” he said.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley denied that the November 8 demonetisation was announced without proper preparations.
“The government was fully prepared before announcing the decision despite the requirement of strict secrecy,” Jaitley said at the meeting.
Meanwhile, Kejriwal accused Modi of receiving bribes while he was the Gujarat Chief Minister and sought a judicial probe into the issue. The Delhi assembly also sought a reversal of the demonetisation move.