Fifty days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the scrapping of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, he continued to be in the firing line of the opposition on Wednesday. If the Congress demanded a White Paper on the November 8 note ban, the CPI-M said Modi had a lot to hide.
On the 50th day of the dramatic announcement on demonetisation, the government on Wednesday approved an ordinance to make possession of demonetised notes beyond March 31, 2017, a criminal offence. The move attracted flak from the opposition.
Daring Modi to disclose the quantum of black money seized after demonetisation, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi put forth a charter of demands and sought a White Paper on the currency ban.
“Modi ji should reveal how much black money has been recovered since November 8,” he said.
He questioned Modi on the economic loss to the nation on account of demonetisation and put forth a list of posers.
“How many jobs and livelihood have been lost since this policy has been announced? How many lives have been lost due to demonetisation? Why has the government not paid any compensation to the families of the deceased?”
The Congress leader sought to know when Modi will reveal in Parliament the list of names of Swiss bank account holders that the Switzerland government had provided.
“Why were experts, economists or the Reserve Bank of India not consulted before unleashing this draconian policy upon the people?” he said.
“We want to know who is the thief? Modi ji has performed demonetisation ‘yagna’ for 50 families and one per cent super-rich people of the country,” Gandhi said.
On Tuesday, Gandhi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had taken the Prime Minister to task on the issue.
Banerjee had wondered if Modi will quit if the cash crunch persisted even after the end of the 50-day deadline he himself set.
Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress will undertake a protest campaign ‘Modi hatao, desh bachao’ campaign in West Bengal from January 1.
On Wednesday, saw Bihar’s ruling Rashtriya Janata Dal also held sit-ins in state capital Patna and district headquarters against demonetisation, with party chief Lalu Prasad Yadav accusing Modi of cheating the country’s people.
“Modi has derailed the economy through demonetisation, which had led to increased job losses,” Lalu Prasad said in Patna and urged the people to remove Modi to save the country.
Assailing Modi over demonetisation, Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said the Prime Minister “has a lot to hide”.
“Modi doesn’t face Parliament where people’s representatives can question him on behalf of the masses. He doesn’t take any questions from the media… he doesn’t answer any serious questions from the public which come through the RTI (Right to Information Act).
“Why is Modi so scared of questions? One, he clearly doesn’t have answers. Two, he has a lot to hide,” said the Left leader.
Yechury also slammed the Centre for its “ordinance raj”.
“The government has no option but take the ordinance route because unless the law is changed, demonetisation is not legal. Ideally, this law should have been brought in Parliament in the winter session.
“The government is increasingly relying on ordinance because it doesn’t want to be answerable. We are opposed to this ordinance raj,” he said.
Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) called Modi “anti-people” and asked him to take responsibility for the people’s hardships.
AAP leader Ashutosh said over 100 people had lost their lives and hundreds of thousands lost their livelihoods over the last 50 days since demonetisation.
“Fifty days have passed since the note ban. Farmers are still facing hardships; labourers have lost jobs; businesses have collapsed; and more than 100 people have lost lives. Who is responsible for all this?” he asked.