Inside the Parliament: Heated Exchanges resulting in adjournments
Inside the Parliament: Heated Exchanges resulting in adjournments

Government unfazed by combined opposition attack; fight will continue, says opposition Meanwhile, the common people undergo terrible suffering

The war over demonetization between the government and opposition is getting fiercer as the latter vows to continue the fight while the Modi government makes it clear that they will stick to the decision.

On November 17, West Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Delhi Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal  sharply criticized Modi while addressing a rally in New Delhi. Kejriwal alleged that demonetization was the “biggest scam” in Independent India’s history and asked the government to roll back it in three days.

Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal led march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to protest demonetization
Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal led march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to protest demonetization

Saying that such a crisis was not seen even during Emergency, Banerjee warned Modi that he should not run the country through “dictatorship” and the ‘protest is a fight to save the country.’

Rejecting opposition party’s demand of withdrawing decision on banning 1,000 and 500 currency notes, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley ruled out roll back of demonetization saying that the government will stick to it.

“Whatever AAP and Trinamool Congress said about the roll back, there is no question of that. It is a clear decision of the Prime Minister and government to cleanse politics and economy of the country. We will stick to it”, said Jaitley.

On November 16, in a surprise move, National Democratic Alliance (NDA) ally Shiv Sena decided to participate in a protest march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan led by Mamata Banerjee along with National Conference and AAP leaders. Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray had earlier said in a press conference “Modi did a surgical strike along the LoC and deserved praise. However, his demonetization decision could bounce back on him.”

Surprisingly, Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar and strong critic of Modi, expressed his “total support” for the ban, according to a report by NDTV. He said that like other opposition parties, he is concerned by the plight of millions of people left without any cash, but believes the PM’s reform will be effective and that Mr. Modi must next tackle benami or proxy-owned property, used often to park black cash.

Common people in long lines in front of a bank in Hyderabad to exchange the demonetized bills of Rs.1000.00 and Rs.500.00
Common people in long lines in front of a bank in Hyderabad to exchange the demonetized bills of Rs.1000.00 and Rs.500.00

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi alleged that 15 to 20 Industrialists who were close to Modi were running the country and the demonetization exercise was simply an exercise to ‘take from the poor to give to these rich industrialists.’

“Mark my words, while all you poor people are standing in line to deposit your notes, the Modi government would soon use this cash to forego the debts of these 15 to 20 industrialists. In the last one year debts of these industrialists worth Rs 1.10 Lakh crore has been written off by the Modi government.” said Rahul Gandhi.

CPI (M) General SecretarySitaram Yechury took a dig at Modi by comparing him to French Queen Marie Antoinette. “It reminds me of Marie Antoinette who during the French Revolution said if they (people) don’t find bread, why don’t they eat cakes. Now, we have Modi Antoinette who says: ‘If you don’t have paper, use plastic’.”

But Modi strongly defended his currency move claiming that demonetization had equalized the rich and the poor. He asserted that his decision to scrap notes of high denomination was taken in the “interest and happiness of the poor,” the good of the country and the farmer.