West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee led the attack on the central government over their demonetisation move on Tuesday, when a few Opposition parties addressed a joint news meet at Delhi’s Constitutional Club. The Trinamool Congress chief alleged that the government had completely destroyed the federal structure. “It is not emergency, it’s super emergency. Just that it has not been officially declared,” said Banerjee at the conference that was also attended by Tamil Nadu’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Bihar’s Rashtriya Janata Dal.
Banerjee alleged the decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes has “pushed India 20 years back”. Calling demonetisation a big scam, Banerjee warned the ruling National Democratic Alliance government that the public would vote them out. “[The] NDA govt will have to resign. You have to fulfill the promise of acche din. If you don’t, people will throw you out.”
Banerjee challenged the idea of a cashless economy, which has been heavily pushed by the Centre. “Cashless is baseless. No country in the world has gone cashless... Digital is not new. But what the government is doing not in country’s interest,” she added.
Banerjee also reiterated that the move has inconvenienced the poor. “From rickshaw pullers to farmers to tribals, all are facing hardship. Landless labourer are not getting food, daily wagers are facing difficulty.” She accused to government of robbing poor people and giving it to the rich in the form of loans.
The conference was not attended by several big Opposition parties, to which Banerjee said that those leaders who did not participate stood with her and the Congress. Banerjee has been one of the most vocal leaders in her opposition to demonetisation. She had called it a “draconian decision” almost within an hour of the move being announced on November 8.
In his address to the media, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi said the demonetisation drive was a “complete mess”. “[The] PM should answer the nation, that what was the real motive of demonetisation and what will he do for those affected by it,” said Gandhi.
He said that instead of checking black money, the demonetisation has created a new black market to exchange the denotified notes. “What resulted is an attack on financial institutions and poor people of the country,” Gandhi said. He added that the government’s assurance that the cash situation will improve after December 30 was a hoax.
The Congress scion also raised the Sahara papers, which are allegedly proof of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s corruption. “[The] PM should be the first person to say if I am facing allegations then there should be an inquiry. Sheilaji [Sheila Dikshit] is ready for probe.” His comment comes a day after Congress leader Dikshit had refuted corruption allegations against her.
The Bharatiya Janata Party was quick to retort. Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asked Gandhi to discuss the 2G scam and the coal gate scandal, in which the Congress or its allies have been embroiled. “It is not right to make baseless allegations,” added Prasad.
Although the Congress had invited all Opposition parties for the meeting, most of the major parties gave it a miss. Among those who skipped are the Left parties, Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United, Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party, Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party.