Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended Lok Sabha on Wednesday after skipping Parliament for five days, but his presence failed to break an impasse over the recall of high-value banknotes as the opposition intensified its protests inside the House and outside.
Government sources said Modi could attend Rajya Sabha on Thursday to turn the tables on the opposition that has stalled proceedings of the winter session over his absence from the Upper House. The opposition has accused the BJP-led government of unleashing “financial anarchy” by scrapping the old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 banknotes, a move that left millions of people lining up at banks and ATMs.
The Prime Minister has defended the move on several occasions, accusing critics of the demonetisation as supporters of the shadow economy that his government has vowed to stamp out.
“He (Modi) can go to a pop concert and speak, but (cannot come when) 200 MPs of opposition are standing here demanding his presence,” Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said earlier in the day, mocking the Prime Minister addressing the audience at a performance by British rock band Coldplay in Mumbai.
The opposition’s demanded for a debate under a rule that entails voting was rejected by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, triggering a ruckus which led to an adjournment of the Lok Sabha.
The opposition also decided to observe November 28 as ‘Aakrosh Diwas’ (day of outrage) and stage protests in front of banks.
- Govt allows state-run lender Nabard to disburse Rs 21,000 crore to farmers to help them sow winter crops
- Service charge – the levy that shops pay banks for card payments — on debit card transactions removed till December 31
- No service charge on online rail bookings till December 31
- People can deposit the now-invalid Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination banknotes in their post office savings accounts
- Prime Minister Modi was present in the Lok Sabha briefly during Question Hour amid the Opposition’s demand for an adjournment motion.
In the morning, leader of 12 opposition parties formed a human chain during a protest in Parliament premises. The opposition ranks swelled after the AIADMK joined the protests.
“We feel this decision is a scam...We want a JPC to probe this. What the Prime Minister has done is the world’s biggest impromptu financial experiment,” Gandhi said.
Hours later, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee led a separate dharna at the Jantar Mantar. She said the Modi government has lost its “credentials and credibility” and will have to go.
“I am sorry to say, the country is not secure under you Modiji. You do things on your whims and fancies.”
In a bid to reach a compromise, parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar called a meeting of select opposition parties on Thursday morning.
In the evening, Modi thanked people for supporting the move, posting results of a survey to gauge public opinion on the demonetisation.
About 98% of the five lakh respondents have backed the move, Modi tweeted.