After five days of relentless protest by the Opposition, the Upper House finally got to debate the issue of demonetisation, but only briefly. The house saw another round of protest as the Opposition demanded PM Modi’s presence in the house throughout the debate.
PM Modi was present in Upper House till it broke for lunch recess at 1:00 PM. After it resumed at 2:00 PM, the Opposition MPs raised protest over his absence. The house was adjourned for the day with little headway in the debate.
Prior to the pandemonium on Thursday, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the opposition attack as debate resumed in the upper house.
Participating in the debate, Naresh Agrawal (SP) said his party was against demonetisation and dubbed it as a “second emergency” that has brought about financial emergency in the country.
“Such decisions have been taken only by dictators and not by elected governments anywhere in the world,” Agrawal said, adding no one has the power to implement such a decision without the consent and approval of both Houses of Parliament.
“Till it is discussed in the House, how this decision was taken…It is a very dangerous decision for the country and is not in national interest,” he said.
While welcoming the presence of the Prime Minister in the House saying it is good that government has shed its rigidity, he lamented that the Prime Minister was not aware of the ground realities where people were suffering largely on account of the scrapping of high value currency notes.
Further criticising the BJP-ruled central government, the SP leader asked, “when you will bring back the money stashed abroad on foreign soil…”
Joining debate, TMC’s Derek O’Brien said the government was trying to build a narrative that anyone opposing demonetisation is supporting the corrupt.
“Anyone who opposes your policy, Prime Minister ji, with respect, is not for blackmoney and is not anti-national,” he said, adding that the opposition was raising the difficulties faced by people.
“Why are you giving these lectures on corruption and black money? We are opposing because we think the people are suffering and economy will be killed. Why are you creating this impression that you are some messiah and all of us devils,” he said.
BSP chief Mayawati alleged that the decision to scrap high value notes was taken “without adequate preparation” because of which 95 per cent people were facing problems.
Referring to the government’s survey to gauge people’s views on demonetisation in which 90 per cent out of initial responses had supported the decision, she said that in fact 90 per cent people were facing immense problems.
“Please dissolve the Lok Sabha and let us go into election … and you will see the result now,” Mayawati said.
Later in the day, CPI(M) moved a contempt notice against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Rajya Sabha for “staying away” from the House although present in Parliament building and not explaining the issues relating to demonetisation.
“I have moved (a notice for) a motion for contempt of the House by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Notices have been served to Rajya Sabha Secretary General and Chairman of the Upper House in accordance with the rule,” CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury told the press.
(With inputs from the PTI)