Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticised the Opposition on Wednesday for triggering repeated disruptions over the government’s demonetisation exercise in Parliament that has stalled proceedings this winter session.
At a weekly meeting of the BJP parliamentary party, Modi said: “What some opposition parties are doing is undemocratic and the issue should be debated in Parliament.”
Modi said his government’s decision to scrap high-value banknotes --- announced a month ago --- was a major reforms exercise aimed at weeding out black money. He said the move had received massive support from the people, endorsing the results of a stock-taking survey carried out through his official app.
Modi’s surprise announcement on November 8 to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes has sparked chaos and confusion across the country, with millions of consumers queued outside banks and ATMs to change a limited number of old notes for new ones or withdraw cash. The government has stressed the move, which met with the Opposition’s resistance, was aimed at fighting corruption.
With the demonetisation issue rocking the Rajya Sabha again on Wednesday, finance minister Arun Jaitley too blamed the Opposition for using the tactics of disruption on a daily basis rather than resuming the discussion that started on the first day of the winter session (on November 16).
“The Opposition disrupts proceedings for one reason or the other. I challenge them to begin the debate if they have courage,” Jaitley said in the Upper House.
At the BJP parliamentary party meeting, Modi referred to previous instances where Parliament had taken up issues that became talking points in the country. He rued that a constructive discussion on demonetisation was not being allowed by the Opposition, which had initially demanded Modi’s representation in the debate.
Modi also drew a parallel between the polling process and the notes ban, saying there was a need to educate people about the benefits of cashless transactions in post-demonetisation days --- just like the way voters are educated about electronic voting machines during election.
“Janshakti’ (people’s power) is with the government on demonetisation,” he said.
His Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) passed a resolution hailing the perceived mass support and another demanding that Parliament be allowed to function and discuss the issue.
The BJP parliamentary party also accused the Opposition of shifting goalposts on a debate in the House.
“Opposition parties are doing so for no valid reason, and as part of a political agenda. We have made it clear that the Prime Minister will speak in both the Houses, but they keep changing the goal posts,” parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar said.
(with agency inputs)