The Opposition marked the first month of demonetisation as a ‘Black Day’ on Thursday, with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi lashing out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and alleging that the government’s move to scrap high-value banknotes was benefitting digital wallets such as Paytm while the poor were facing hardship.
He accused Modi, who is still to speak on the issue in Parliament, of “laughing” at suffering of the people.
More than two weeks of the winter session of Parliament has been lost to disruptions over Opposition protests over the government’s November 8 decision to recall high-value notes, sending the economy reeling . They want the debate on the issue with a vote, a demand the BJP has rejected.
The Prime Minister is expected to intervene in a debate over demonetisation in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, sources in the ruling BJP said.
“Farmers are dying. More than 100 people have died. And all this while, PM is having fun. He is laughing,” said Gandhi, describing the scraping of high-value notes as a “foolish decision.”
Speaking to the media outside the Parliament building, Gandhi said, “His (PM’s) narrative is changing. After black money to terrorists he moved to counterfeit money. Then he moved to cashless economy. And we are going to catch him inside the House. He can’t run away.”
He described Paytm, which allows cashless transactions, as “Pay to Modi”. The Alibaba-backed company is witnessing millions of daily transactions worth more than Rs 100 crore after the government’s demonetisation exercise.
But Gandhi also insisted that there should be voting at the end of the debate, and alleged that the government was scared that many members of the treasury bench could vote against the government.
“We want voting. But they are blocking it because if there’s a voting many people in the BJP will vote with us,” Gandhi said.
The government hit back quickly. Information and Broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu quipped, “They are standing in front of the Gandhi statue for mere photo op.”
As the demonetisation drive completed a month, the Opposition marked it as a ‘Black Day’, with 16 parties protesting inside the Parliament complex. Opposition leaders had black bands on them to protest the government’s move.