The BJP turned up the heat on opposition parties a day before the second week of Parliament’s winter session, in an apparent bid to corner them on the demonetisation debate.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at Agra, during which he touted the move to scrap high-value bank notes as pro-poor and pro-middle class, may further irk the opposition and reduce chances of Parliament functioning normally this week.
BJP chief Amit Shah quipped on Sunday that opposition parties were climbing “the same tree like rats, cats and snakes to escape the demonetisation flood”, and appealed to the people to help Modi change the country by giving him 15 years “from panchayat to Parliament”.
Addressing BJP booth workers in Chandigarh, the party president specifically targeted Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for opposing demonetisation. Shah said he was not surprised by Gandhi’s reaction because the last two UPA tenures were “synonymous with scams”.
The Congress will meet other constituents of the opposition on Monday morning to strategise ways to debate the demonetisation issue. “Monday morning plan. #Parliament Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha leaders of about 10 opposition parties meeting at 9.30 am. Hmmm,” tweeted Trinamool Congress national spokesperson Derek O’ Brien.
The main opposition party has asked the government to form a joint parliamentary committee for probing allegations of prior information on demonetisation being leaked to BJP leaders, among other issues. With the BJP launching a counter-attack on Rajya Sabha leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad’s remarks regarding demonetisation-related deaths, the opposition wants to change “the narrative” and bring the matter back on track.
Though the opposition wants Modi to respond to their questions from the floor of the House, he is yet to oblige them. “Why did he choose to speak at Agra when Parliament is waiting for his clarification?” asked a Congress leader.
Sources close to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said she may ask her MPs to protest more aggressively against Modi from Monday. While the Congress is in no mood to relent either, the government hopes that smoother disbursement of money through banks and ATMs in the coming days will blunt the opposition’s attacks.