Under fire for scrapping high-value banknotes “without a back-up plan,” the BJP-led NDA government has decided to aggressively counter any resistance from Opposition against the move. After a meeting of NDA constituents on Monday, the government ruled out any rethink.
The assessment in the ruling camp is that though people are facing inconvenience they have supported the PM’s move in the “larger national interest” and for “long term gains”. Hence, there is no need to be defensive.
“Opposition parties are rattled by the move,” Union minister Venkaiah Naidu said. “Those who lived by corruption, opportunism, nepotism, greed, repression, electoral malpractices, self-seeking and sycophancy all these years, can’t make baseless allegations against this government,” he said.
But the challenge for the government will be to counter a combative opposition that is showing the signs of resilience seen nearly 18 months ago about the land reforms bill. The government was forced to abandon that bill. But that unity was short-lived and Opposition parties remained fragmented March 2015 onwards. The BJP may have been able to smoothen over controversies surrounding its CMs — Shivraj Singh Chauhan (Madhya Pradesh), Vasundhara Raje (Rajasthan) and Raman Singh (Chhattisgarh) besides external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, in the previous sessions of Parliament because of this.
The BJP also has to tackle its ally Shiv Sena which is opposing the move. The Sena had warned the PM to roll back the drive or be on the receiving end.
On its part, the government is also ready for a discussion on demonetisation and has asked NDA members to argue with facts and figures, not only in Parliament but outside as well.
The Prime Minister’s remarks at a public meeting at Belagavi in Karnataka on Sunday, indicated that more steps are in the offing.
“For 70 years the country has been looted, give me 70 months and I’ll clean up the entire nation,” he said.
Naidu dismissed allegations that the government had leaked details of the move to “insiders and friends”, a charge levelled by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and the Congress