Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to attend the Rajya Sabha on Thursday but may not intervene to end an impasse over the scrapping of high-value currency that has deadlocked Parliament and stalled legislative business.
Opposition parties went into a huddle early Thursday and indicated they might continue to disrupt proceedings in the second week of the winter session that has transacted little work.
The Opposition has been furious over Modi’s five-day absence from Parliament and have demanded he address both Houses over the government’s shock recall of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes two weeks ago – a move that the Congress and others say has unleashed ‘financial anarchy’.
“The prime minister is not able to gather courage to face Parliament. Why is he running away from the battle ground?” asked Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, according to ANI.
Modi’s presence may allow the BJP gain brownie points but there is no clarity if he will address the House and speak on demonetisation.A section of the Opposition is mulling a march to the President’s house to petition him against the measure.
Modi has defended the move to recall the currency – aimed at draining illegal cash from the economy -- on several occasions, including a packed rock concert in Mumbai via video conference. But this has only infuriated the Opposition, which says the prime minister has insulted Parliament by not turning up.
His presence in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday failed to impress the Opposition, which continued to stall business. The government accuses the Congress and others of shying away from a debate.
Since the demonetisation move was rolled out two weeks ago, millions of people have lined up outside banks and ATMs to exchange, withdraw or deposit currency with farmers and small traders the hardest hit.
Several have allegedly died while waiting in the long queues and because of a cash crunch that is said to have severely affected the countryside.
The bumpy rollout has emboldened the Opposition, many of whom – such as West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and her Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal – hitting the streets in protest against the move. But the government has ruled out a rollback of the move and accused opponents of shying away from anti-black money measures.
On Wednesday, Banerjee led a dharna at Jantar Mantar, roping in the Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal (United) and some other parties. At Thursday’s meeting, some other parties may also announce their individual programmes.
On November 28, all Opposition parties will mark the day as “Aakrosh Diwas” and plan demonstrations at banks with the slogan: “Return my money”