Cash furore brings House to a halt again

Opposition push for adjournment motion rebuffed; govt. stands firm

Published - November 19, 2016 01:24 am IST - NEW DELHI:

sticking to their demand:  Congress leaders outside Parliament in New Delhi on Friday.

sticking to their demand: Congress leaders outside Parliament in New Delhi on Friday.

The government's recent decision to demonetise Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes rocked Parliament for the second day on Friday, with the Opposition’s tone remaining acerbic and the government seeking to counter it aggressively in the legislature and outside.

In the Lok Sabha, Congress and some other opposition parties insisted on a discussion on demonetisation under a rule which entails voting, and through an adjournment motion that implies suspension of all other business.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar, however, said the government was willing to discuss the issue and there was no need for an adjournment motion.

PM’s presence sought

In both Houses, the Opposition parties opposing demonetisation wanted the Prime Minister to be present, a demand that has been repeatedly made.

In the Rajya Sabha, treasury benches also resorted to slogans after Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi referred to the Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad's statement that more people had died because of demonetisation than had been killed in the Uri terror attack. His remarks were expunged.

Seeing this as a celebration of terrorism at a time when “the Prime Minister was trying to fight black money,” Mr. Naqvi said there was anger in the nation and Mr. Azad should apologise. In the Lok Sabha, Meenakshi Lekhi attacked the Opposition's comparison of Uri killings with demonetisation. Later, Mr. Azad said it is the BJP that should apologise. “BJP should apologise (for demonetisation) to the entire nation, not me. The way they have pushed back the country, they must apologise to the 125 crore people of this country,” he said outside Parliament.

Congress and its allies do not want Parliament to function and were shying away from a debate on demonetisation as the poor look at Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “messiah” after the decision, Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said later.

“We cannot understand why the Congress and its friends are raising a ruckus [in Parliament],” Mr. Naidu said. “Congress is now saying that the PM should come and only then the debate will go on, . There is an attempt to divert from the issue. It does not have facts and public opinion is turning against it. They do not want Parliament to function and seem to be moving in that direction.”

He accused the opposition party of taking a U-turn after initially agreeing to a debate.

The CPI (M), in a statement, said, “Instead of immediate measures to bring relief to the people, the Government has now reduced the limit of exchanging notes per person from Rs. 4,500 to Rs. 2,000. This will hit hard the poorer sections.”

“The decision to make PAN card compulsory to open an account has made it impossible for the urban and rural poor to open a bank account,” the statement added.

“The cooperative banking sector is being severely damaged by the ban on their accepting and exchanging notes. This is causing hardships to millions of farmers and the rural populace. The CPI(M) leaders demand that the RBI immediately allow cooperative banks to conduct such transactions,” it added.

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