Continuing their tirade against the central government over the hardships faced by the common man post-demonetisation, the opposition parties on Thursday boycotted a meeting called by the government to break the parliamentary logjam on the issue.
They also decided not to have any discussion with the government until their nationwide protest on November 28.
As the government’s attempt to break the logjam in both Houses of Parliament failed, Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, for the second time in a month, sought the intervention of President Pranab Mukherjee in the matter.
Mounting pressure on the government, Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party announced that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will hold six rallies in the next four weeks, including one in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi.
The government had convened an informal meeting of the opposition leaders in Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s chamber in the Parliament House.
Apart from Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Information & Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu and Parliamentary Affairs Minister H.N. Ananth Kumar were present for the proposed meeting.
However, the opposition parties held a separate meeting in the chamber of Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad in the Parliament House.
Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge had said that if the Prime Minister or Speaker Sumitra Mahajan calls a meet, the opposition parties will attend it.
However, sources said that it was decided in the opposition parties’ meeting that they would not attend any meeting until “Akrosh Diwas” on November 28.
Banerjee, after meeting the President equated Modi with Hitler and said the “autocratic” move to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes has ruined farmers, daily wagers and small traders.
“Because of this Tughlaqi (autocratic) decision, the entire country is suffering. From tea garden workers to daily wagers and small traders, all have come to the street. People are starving because of this,” said Banerjee.
She said that since the November 8 announcement, demonetisation has caused a loss of several lakh crores of rupees to the GDP.
“In the last 15 days, the GDP has suffered loss to the tune of several lakh crores of rupees and if this continues, it will soon be in the negative,” she said.
Banerjee also flayed the Modi government for its inability to bring back the black money stashed in foreign tax havens.
“This government could not bring a single rupee of black money from Swiss banks but is now looting the legitimate money of the poor and the common man. People are dying, starving because they cannot use their own hard-earned money,” she said.
Banerjee also said that she apprised the President of the prevailing situation, including how all those who are opposing the move are being threatened.
“Even the media houses are not being spared. From corporate houses to industrialists to the common people, whoever is opposing the move is being threatened,” she claimed.
Demanding a rollback of the move, Banerjee has been leading her party’s campaign in the national capital.
Besides leading a march to the President, along with the leaders of several other parties on November 16, Banerjee on Wednesday hosted a protest meeting at the Jantar Mantar.
Several opposition leaders, including Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal-U, Jaya Bachchan of the Samajwadi Party and Majeed Memon of the Nationalist Congress Party, joined the protest.
Meanwhile, the AAP announced that apart from the six rallies to be addressed by Kejriwal, the party will also hold demonstrations against demonetisation in all district headquarters in the country on November 28.
“It is a Rs 8-lakh-crore scam,” AAP leader Ashish Khetan told the media.
Khetan said Kejriwal will hold public rallies in Meerut, Varanasi and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh on December 1, 7 and 18, respectively, and in Bhopal, Ranchi and Jaipur on December 20, 22 and 23, respectively.
“We will ask seven questions to the public through rallies about demonetisation,” Khetan said.
“We will ask them if there should be an independent probe into the documents seized during Income Tax raids into Sahara and Birla offices, which revealed that bribes worth crores of rupees were paid to Modi and many other leaders,” he said.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav called on the Prime Minister on Thursday and handed over a letter urging him to take measures to address the concerns of farmers affected by demonetisation.