POLITICS

Nitish Kumar Says Modi Is 'Riding A Tiger' On Demonetisation, Opposition Demands Acknowledgement Of The Dead

No work was done on the fourth day of the Winter Session.

21/11/2016 2:27 PM IST | Updated 21/11/2016 6:55 PM IST
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NEW DELHI -- As the country moves into its third week of demonetisation, the Opposition ripped into the Modi government, raising slogans in Parliament, demanding acknowledgement of the dead, and accusing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of being insensitive to the plight of the "common man."

Contrary to his counterparts, however, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told other leaders of Janata Dal (United), "Prime Minister Modi is now riding a tiger which could damage his alliances, but there's great sentiment in favour of his move and we should respect that."

With public suffering becoming starker, BJP's political rivals have united in their criticism of the Modi's government suddenly scrapping the ₹500 and ₹1000 notes on 8 November. Kumar, one of Modi's strongest critics, however, has backed the exercise from start. The Centre has argued that the element of surprise was necessary in order to combat black money and corruption.

While some parties have expressed grave doubts about whether demonetisation is an effective way to counter black money, almost everyone has blasted the government for its shoddy execution which has left millions without cash to carry on their day-to-day transactions. Demonetisation has claimed over 50 lives, while livelihoods are on the verge of being destroyed.

No work was done on the fourth day of the Winter Session. The Opposition demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi address Parliament on demonetisation, but the government steadfastly refused, noting that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was ready to speak on the issue. Congress Party leaders have questioned why the prime minister won't address demonetisation in Parliament, when he does so in political rallies.

When Jaitley pushed for a debate on demonetisation today, the Opposition led by Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury demanded that lawmakers pay tribute to those whose deaths were attributed to standing in long queues in front of ATMs and banks.

On Wednesday, around 200 lawmakers plan to be on dharna in front of the Gandhi statue inside the Parliament compound.

Meanwhile, the Centre announced a huge relief for farmers by allowing them to purchase seeds with the old ₹500 note at outlets belonging either to the Centre or state governments.

Speaking to Times Now, JD(U)'s senior leader Pavan Verma, whose party is at variance with the Opposition in supporting Modi's demonetisation drive, said that even though nothing in the Constitution compels the prime minister to speak in Parliament, doing so would be in tune with "democratic traditions."

Addressing a press conference in Kolkata, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee insisted that her opposition to demonetisation was not political, but about helping the "common man." "Already the economy of state has been destroyed," she said. "Financial structure of the country is collapsing."

Several relief measures announced by the government over the past two weeks were indicative of the "confusion" and the lack of an action plan by the government, Banerjee said.

In another attack on Modi today, Congress Party Vice President Rahul Gandhi said, "What is the need for the Prime Minister to come to Parliament. These days the prime minister is on another level. He doesn't speak to his minister or to anyone else. He does whatever he wants to. He has taken the biggest economic decision in the history of the country after informing just a handful of people."

Gandhi once again stood in an ATM cue in Delhi today and spoke to people about their woes in procuring cash.

"It was taken without taking into consideration what would happen to the farmers, the fishing industry has been destroyed in Kerala and Bengal, nothing was considered. These days, we don't have a prime minister, not even a super prime minister. These days, there is a new avatar has come. We'll have to think for a new word for it," he said.

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