New delhi: The Opposition on Thursday staged a ‘black day’ in protest against the government at Gandhi statue outside Parliament, on the issue of demonetisation of old notes.
“Demonetisation has devastated the poor, farmers and daily wage workers. We want to have a discussion. We want a vote, but the government doesn’t,” Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi said at the protest.
“This is not a bold decision, it is a foolish decision which has been taken without any due consideration,” he alleged.
Claiming that the Prime Minister had ‘changed his narrative’ on demonetisation, the Gandhi family scion said that Modi started by saying the move was aimed against black money, then he shifted to terrorism, then to counterfeit currency and finally began to talk of a cashless economy.
“PM Modi is running away. If he comes to the House for debate, we won’t let him run,” Rahul said.
He alleged that Modi was ‘laughing’ and ‘having a nice time’ while the people of the country are suffering due to demonetisation.
Imputing dishonest motives behind the push towards a cashless economy, Rahul claimed it was intended to ensure that a few people must get maximum benefits from these transactions.
In an indirect reference to veteran BJP leader LK Advani’s remarks on Wednesday, Rahul further asserted that it is the responsibility of the government and Speaker, not the Opposition to ensure that Parliament runs smoothly.
He also made a curious claim that if allowed to speak in the Lok Sabha, he would expose how Paytm actually means ‘Pay to Modi’.
Hitting back at the Opposition, Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu said that the ‘Black Day’ was not being held against demonetisation but in support of black money.
Invoking Mahatma Gandhi, Naidu said, ”Gandhi ji gave call for Satyagraha to see that victory of truth prevails. What are so-called namesake Gandhis doing? Observing a protest.”
“Opposition is staging protest only to garner media space. Government is ready for discussion in the house,” said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar.
“By simply posing for a photo op in front of Gandhiji, the Opposition cannot claim the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi. They are insulting his memory,” asserted Naidu.
Naidu said that after stalling Parliament for 2 weeks, the Congress was only doing a ‘tamasha’ in front of the statue.
“More than 100 people died post demonetisation. We wanted that they must be paid homage in Parliament, but government refused this. This is the reason why thee Opposition staged a protest at Gandhi statue in Parliament premises today and paid homage to those people,” Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said.
The Rajya Sabha however was adjourned till 12 noon following ruckus.
Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, earlier said the growth rate has decreased and the problems of the people have increased post demonetisation.
“The people must get relief from this problem. We are observing black day because it’s been a month since the implementation of demonetisation and still the people are facing problems. Earlier, the Prime Minister asked for five days then five weeks and now 50 days. This isn’t right as not even 50 percent of the situation got better in one month,” he told ANI.
“Our image has also ruined at the international platform due to demonetisation. Everyone is affected due to this monumental mismanagement and all are worried. They have failed in this regard,” he added.
Highlighting BJP veteran Lal Krishna Advani’s concern with regard to repeated disruptions in the Parliament, Kharge alleged that the NDA regime at the Centre is frustrated.
“We want debate and discussion. Don’t know how much impact L.K. Advani’s statement had on the government, but we have been trying to carry on with the debate,” he added.