Chaotic scenes witnessed in both Houses of Parliament over scrapping of Rs1,000 and Rs 500 notes
NEW DELHI (TIP): Both Houses of parliament were adjourned on Thursday, November 17, as opposition lawmakers continued their attack on the government over the impact of its ban on 500 and 1000 rupee notes. Today was the second day of the winter session. Union finance minister Arun Jaitley later rejected all demands of the opposition.
In the Rajya Sabha or Upper House, where a debate on demonetization has been on since Wednesday, the opposition shouted slogans demanding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi come to the house, listen to debate and respond to their questions. It’s a stalemate, with the government refusing to give in to that demand. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will reply to the debate, in which a united opposition has attacked the government over what they call “economic anarchy”.
In the Lok Sabha, which did not function yesterday after obituaries, opposition parties have moved 21 adjournment motions, which seek to put aside regular work to debate and vote on the notes ban. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said she would allow the debate but not until lawmakers stopped shouting. When that did happen, she adjourned the Lower House for the day. “We are ready to discuss any issue, there is nothing to hide. We want the Congress to clarify, are they with the government decision or not? You’ve got every right to make demands, and the government will reply to it all,” said senior union minister Venkaiah Naidu this morning.
‘There is no question of a rollback of the government’s cash clean-up move,’ Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, rejecting the Opposition’s demand of a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee into the alleged leak of information to BJP units and “friends of BJP” on notes ban. Regarding the opposition’s other demand, that the Prime Minister respond to the debate, Mr. Jaitley said it was the prerogative of the party and government to decide who would reply. Opposition parties, except for the Trinamool Congress, have not demanded that the government withdraw the notes ban, but have criticized the manner in which it was implemented causing hardship to common people who have had to queue up for hours at banks amid a cash crunch. Ministers speaking in the debate said the radical step was taken in national interest to end corruption and black money. No honest taxpayer would lose a single rupee, while those with unaccounted wealth would suffer, as would terror organizations that had been choked by the currency ban, they said.
Before the winter session began PM Modi had said he was counting on “good debates” on key issues and hopes the opposition will cooperate to support key legislation like taking the next steps to introduce the national Goods and Services Tax or GST, the biggest tax reform in decades.