Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday demanded that the government allow the use of old Rs 500 and 1,000 notes till December 30, while citing the “hardships” faced by the public. On the same day, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said President Pranab Mukherjee had consented to meeting political party representatives next week. On November 8, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes to weed out black money.Before leaving for New Delhi, Vijayan said he would inform Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of the state’s stand on the issue. “When the country is facing such a stiff challenge and people continue to suffer, the prime minister decided to travel abroad. Nothing has come to an order yet. No government should take such an indifferent stand,” Vijayan said critising Modi’s Japan trip.
Stating that the government should have prepared better for the step, Vijayan raised doubts over the Centre’s claims that the programme is part of an attempt to curb black money in the country. He alleged that there were reports that black marketeers were tipped off about the decision beforehand.
On her part, Banerjee had called on opposition leaders to unite against the Centre’s decision. On Twitter, Banerjee said, “The President was kind enough to take my call. I briefed him about how common people are suffering because of demonetisation. He has agreed to meet representatives of political parties on November 16 or 17.”
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also criticised the prime minister for the move. “PM came from Japan and sought cooperation for 50 more days to deal with the issue; will the common man continue to suffer till then?” he asked. The Aam Aadmi Party chief said the Centre must take the situation seriously and provide a solution to deal with the law and order situation. ”If he [PM Modi] is really serious about the issue, he must take strict action against his corporate friends,” Kejriwal said.
The Reserve Bank of India on Sunday asked the public not to withdraw and hoard cash in small denominations. The top bank issued a statement in which it said that cash was available and that the public did not need to be anxious and hoard money. After banks opened on Thursday, millions of people queued up to withdraw new currency notes and exchange old money for bills that will now be accepted. Banerjee, was among several critics who slammed the government’s “draconian” decision.