West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday lambasted Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “threatening people” from abroad and said his government should step down on moral grounds after its “draconian” decision to demonetise Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 rupee notes brought the country “on its knees”.
“This government has no moral right to continue. They should go. This is an anti-people, anti-poor government. Total dictatorship is going on,” Banerjee told reporters here after visiting some banks in south Kolkata and talking to crowds of waiting customers and bank staff.
The Chief Minister also sought a probe by five sitting Supreme Court judges into the economic losses the country has suffered since the government announced the demonetisation move on Tuesday night and demanded the central government withdraw the decision in public interest.
“There should be a probe by five sitting judges of the Supreme Court about the scale of economic disaster, and whether the decision has been taken to grease the palms of some others or sell off the country.
“This decision has taken the country backward. It has made the country unstable. I urge the government again to withdraw this draconian decision ” she said.
Coming down heavily on Modi, who was in Japan, Banerjee alleged he was “threatening the people” from abroad.
“What will he (Modi) do that he is threatening from abroad, that after 31 December he will take stringent action. What will he do, fire at them (the masses)?
“What is left to do? You have snatched the rights of the common man. Two lakh ATMs are closed. Other ATMs are running dry, banks are running dry.
“Money transaction has stopped. People don’t have the cash to buy rice, pulses and other basic amenities. Cancer stricken children are not getting chemotherapy as their parents have no cash to buy medicines. Marriages are being cancelled. And the Prime Minister is issuing threats from abroad. Ro raha hai Hindustan, aur woh gayen hain Japan (India is crying, and he is in Japan),” said Banerjee.
Banerjee said she has never in the past seen any leader uttering such things about Indians from foreign soil. “This is unethical.”
Addressing the Indian diaspora in the Japanese city of Kobe during the day, Modi said his government will go through all personal records since Independence, if required, on the issue of black money and no violator would be spared.
The Trinamool Congress supremo yet again urged all opposition parties to unite inside and outside Parliament against the demonetisation move and help the harried masses.
“Let us all opposition parties work together to save the masses from the disaster. I don’t care even if I am killed. I will stand by the masses.”
Banerjee said she even has no problem in working with her bete noire Communist Party of India-Marxist on the issue.
“I have told my party to work with all other parties. Even the CPI-M, which may be my ideological opponent as I have basic differences with them, if need be the Congress, CPI-M, (BSP supremo) Mayawati, we should work together in greater interest,” she said.
Banerjee said during her visit to banks and ATMS she listened to the woes of the people.
“The stock of 100 rupee notes is not sufficient to meet the people’s demands.”
Alleging that the Modi government has led the country into a state of “undeclared financial emergency”, Banerjee said “first it was the so-called surgical strike, now it is financial anarchy”.
Referring to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s statement asking people to be patient as the recalibration of ATMs will take time, the Chief Minister said “I ask him why were you not patient before taking the decision? You should have thought of the common masses. He has conceded the government is a total failure.”
Banerjee said she has spoken to members of the Gujarati, Sikh and Marwari communities, besides people from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. “Nobody is supporting the move. They are all saying “we will die.”
Referring to Congress leader P Chidambaram’s tenure as Finance Minister, she said “then a currency note was systematically phased out. It was properly planned. BJP should have learned from him and ensured good stock of cash in ATMs and banks.”
Asked what according to her was the ideal process to unearth black money, Banerjee said: “Let them prepare a plan of action. Let them deposit money in the bank. Give some time to the people so that they can digest the system and avail of the opportunity.”