Kolkata: Continuing her confrontation with the Centre over demonetisation, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday threatened a protest movement from Monday if the decision was not withdrawn within the three-day deadline.
Banerjee, however, refused to spell out the exact form of her movement, saying she will comment only on Monday evening, after the expiry on Sunday of the 72-hour deadline given at a joint public rally addressed by Banerjee and her Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday at the Azadpur fruit and vegetables wholesale market in Delhi.
“I will speak the language of the people. After 72 hours, we will hit the streets and launch a movement,” she told the media here.
“But credibility is all I have. I have given them 72 hours. I have to wait. After that I will discuss the matter with some political parties. Then we will let you know on Monday evening,” she said.
Banerjee accused the Modi government of using its agencies to stifle the voices of protest over demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
“If anybody wants to protest, they (Centre) use their agencies. But we don’t care about any agency,” she said.
She had also called on President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday to seek his intervention to alleviate public suffering after demonetisation.
Besides Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, the Shiv Sena and the National Conference leaders had also joined her march to Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Asked whether other parties would join her proposed protest movement, Banerjee said she could only speak for the Trinamool.
“What other political parties will do is up to them. I think everybody should protest. I have already appealed to all opposition parties to work together.
“I don’t want any electoral politics now. Because, firstly, we have to save democracy, the Constitution, the country and the people. People constitute political parties, and not the other way round. So, firstly, we need to save the country from the economic instability. Then I will think about politics.”
The Trinamool supremo dubbed the Modi government anti-poor and anti-people, and said developmental projects had come to a halt for want of money after the government cancelled Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.
Banerjee said the whole of rural India was in tears. “Farmers cannot buy seed, or grow crops, or procure paddy. The 100-day work (under MGNREGA scheme) has stopped. People cannot draw their pensions. Where will these people go? What will people eat?” she asked.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme ensures a minimum of 100 days of work in a financial year for rural households in the country.
Ridiculing talk of transformation of India’s economy into a plastic one, she said only 4.4 per cent people used debit/credit cards.
“What about the remaining 96 per cent? I won’t tolerate if 96 per cent people cry. We won’t tolerate this Tughlaqian (autocratic) attitude,” she said.
The West Bengal Chief Minister said people can withdraw money through credit/debit cards up to a certain point of time. “If peasants cannot sow paddy, people won’t get rice from shopping malls,” she said.