Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad refused to apologise on Friday for his controversial remarks over the deaths reported after the government’s decision to demonetise high-value currencies last week and his party dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take part in a debate in Parliament.
Turning the tables on the Bharatiya Janata Party a day after his remarks in the Rajya Sabha were expunged, Azad sought an apology from the ruling BJP instead.
“The way they have pushed back the country, they must apologise to the 125 crore people of this country.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise announcement to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes last week has sparked chaos and confusion across the country, with millions of consumers queued outside banks and ATMs to change a limited number of old notes for new ones or withdraw cash.
The government said the move was aimed at rooting out black money and corruption, but opposition parties have launched a scathing attack on the Centre citing the hardships face by people.
Launching a fresh offensive, the Congress party dared Modi to debate demonetisation, accusing him of shying away from Parliament to avoid “facing the truth”.
As the demonetisation issue rocked Parliament, scores of Youth Congress workers held a march, alleging withdrawal of high-value notes was part of a “big scam” and aimed at looting public money.
Speaking to the protesters, senior party leader Anand Sharma charged Modi with committing “injustice” to the country and “spoiling” India’s image globally by taking such a huge decision without peoprer preparation.
He said a Joint Parliamentary Committee must be appointed to probe the entire issue.
“A debate is on in Parliament and there is a deadlock. Opposition has demanded that Prime Minister listen to us and explain his move. They (ruling party) say Narendra Modi is in Parliament premises but will not come to the House. What is this? He is avoiding Parliament to avoid facing the truth,” Sharma said, asking the PM to take part in a debate.
“People including farmers, small traders and workers are worst hit by the undeclared financial emergency by the Modi government as 86% of currencies has been withdrawn in a blow to the economy.”
He also slammed government’s use of indelible ink by banks to mark people who withdraw money and charged Modi government with “insulting” them.
“No government can stoop to such level where people withdrawing their own money are being marked with ink. They are withdrawing their own money and not black money. Foreign tourists are also being similarly insulted if they go to banks,” he said.
He called upon Youth Congress activists to create awareness among the masses against demonetisation by Modi government and struggle against it.
Hundreds of activists marched towards Parliament from All India Youth Congress office on Raisina Road. However, they were stopped and around 450 protesters were detained and taken to Parliament Street police station. They were later released.