Normal life was hit in parts of the country on Monday amid protests and shutdowns by opposition parties against the Centre’s demonetisation move, even as West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee vowed to evict Prime Minister Narendra Modi from politics.
“If needed, I will stage a dharna outside Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s house in Delhi if the demonetisation decision is not withdrawn,” said Trinamool Congress chief Banerjee, a fierce critic of the shock recall of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denomination banknotes announced on November 8.
“Today I take the pledge that I may die in the process but I shall remove Narendra Modi from politics. I want to see the end of it,” she said at a rally in Kolkata.
Banerjee was the first to tweet her opposition to Modi’s demonetisation announcement, and was also the first to announce a plan to take her opposition to states such as Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, UP, Delhi and Punjab.
The protests and shutdowns evoked little response in BJP-ruled states.
The strike called by Left parties in Bengal failed to evoke much response. It had been opposed by the ruling Trinamool.
While the Left constituents observed a 12-hour bandh, the Congress, Trinamool and other parties held protests. The JD(U) and BJD did not participate in the protests.
The Congress kept up its attack on Modi. “By a single unwitting and disastrous decision, Modi has demonetised the entire nation,” said Randeep Singh Surjewala, the party’s chief spokesperson. “People are angry, anguished and protesting with Congress leading the ‘Jan Aakrosh Diwas’. Instead of apologising to the nation for devastating India’s growth story, an autocratic Modi is mocking at the people of India,” he added.
In Kerala, the strike called by ruling CPM-led LDF evoked a near total response. Shops and business establishments downed shutters and state-run KSRTC and private buses kept off the roads in response to the strike which began at 6am. Normal life was hit in Left-ruled Tripura. Schools, colleges and shops remained closed and vehicles stayed off the roads. However, banks were open as they were out of the purview of the bandh.
During their protests in Delhi, seven Left parties including the CPM and CPI decried the invalidation of old currency notes as “anti-poor and pro-corporate”.
In Tamil Nadu, hundreds of workers of various opposition parties led by DMK were arrested during protests. “A financial tsunami is sweeping the country following demonetisation,” said DMK treasurer MK Stalin.
In Bihar, vehicular traffic and normal life remained largely unaffected, but movement of trains was affected. The Congress and the RJD took out separate rallies as part of the ‘Aakrosh Diwas’.
The ruling Congress in Karnataka held protests and rallies across the state. The protest affected the functioning of both the Houses of Karnataka Legislature. Life in Bengaluru and elsewhere remained normal.
In Maharashtra, Congress and NCP hit the streets, but normal life remained unaffected with no disruption of public transport or functioning of offices and businesses in Mumbai and other parts.
BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma termed the strike and protest calls a flop. “People have rejected those who support black money and corruption and appreciated the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi against black money and corruption. The leaders behind the calls for ‘Bharat Bandh’ and ‘Jan Aakrosh Diwas’ are tainted and have been rejected by people,” he said. “Any call given by such leaders was bound to flop.”
(With inputs from PTI)