Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday called on political parties to collaborate and change the negative public perception of politicians in the country. The prime minister was addressing members of Parliament before the start of the Winter Session, on Wednesday, during which the Centre’s demonetisation exercise will be discussed. Modi said, “Parliament is the right forum to send out a positive message about politicians by addressing the issues appropriately. It is time we send out a positive message to the people.”
Modi said all parties were united in their concern about black money. He lauded all parties for the passing the Goods and Services Tax Bill and cited it as an example of “working together”. He also called for a discussion on a proposal to conduct simultaneous elections in the states and at the Centre.
The prime minister said the Opposition had contributed positive suggestions in the past and that he hoped that would continue. Finance minister Arun Jaitley allayed doubts raised about the demonetisation exercise and said the government was completely prepared “before announcing the decision”, despite the condition of secrecy. Jaitley said the BJP-led government aimed at improved currency management within the country, which accounts for 12% of the Gross Domestic Product in India.
The government’s decision to scrap old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 current notes has met massive opposition, and politicians across parties have criticised the move as “anti-poor”. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has alleged that Modi had warned his aides before making the announcement, while West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Kerala Congress, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Rahul Gandhi, and many others have called it a “draconian decision”. Parties are expected to discuss the demonetisation drive in both houses of Parliament when the Winter Session begins on Wednesday.