As it happened: Parliament proceedings — November 16, 2016

As the winter session of Parliament began on Wednesday, the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day after Speaker Sumitra Mahajan read out the obituaries of former members of Parliament. The debate over demonetisation got under way in the Rajya Sabha.

Highlights of the post lunch session:

Jairam Ramesh of the Congress requests discussion to continue tomorrow. Mr. Kurien tells him to go by rules and move the BAC and adjournes the House for the day.

Mr. Kurien tells LoP that conduct of business is per rules and only can be decided at BAC and suggests the LoP to move a motion tomorrow on suspension of other business.

LoP Mr. Azad, says the PM should appear in the House to respond tomorrow.

Discussion is not over says the Chair. The debate will take place tomorrow at 2 p.m., says Mr. Kurien.

Mr. Singh and Mr. Naidu indulge in word play: add misinform to inform, says Mr. Singh; I also confirm, says Mr. Naidu. (Or did he say conform?)

Mr. Naidu lavishes praise on PM for Jan Dhan scheme. Steps have been taken one by one to flush out black money.

Digvijay Singh says that in Mr. Naidu the new Goebbels has arrived.

People are showing monumental patience and queuing up for a better India, he says.

Some people are agitated as the popularity graph of the PM is going high, he says.

Minister lists steps like bank mitras, post offices augmentation to attend to issues of the demonetisation.

Black money hoarders don't deserve any sympathy. But unfortunately some voices and some noises are being made in afvour of them, he says.

Mr. Naidu too compares the process with labour pain.

“The allegation of a leak about demonetisation is absurd, he says. In this country, elections keep happening. So the argument that it was taken with elections in mind is not valid.

From Day One of the government, the PM is acting against black money.

First item of the first meeting of the Modi cabinet was to form an SIT against black money, he says.

"This is a war on corruption and black money. Yes! This is a war. This is a mahayagna.

Temporary pain for long-term gain is the buzz word, says Mr. Naidu. “If your money is valid, it won't become invalid."

He asks Congress to make it clear whether they were with black money hoarders or for cleaning up the system.

We fought elections in 2014 on anti-corruption plank, he says.

Tells Opposition to wait till 2019 to know the verdict.

I&B Minister Venkaiah Naidu rises to speak. Terms the demonetisation move a great transformation.

There's only one way. Form a JPC. You don't want to end black money, only to protect your friends, he concludes.

Mr. Tiwari again rakes up Hitler and Modi comparison, vocal protest from Treasury benches.

Mr. Tiwari says he stands by his comment and Ravishankar Prasad wants Mr. Tiwari's comparison of PM to Mussolini and Hitler is unfair.

Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi raises a point of order. Quotes PM to say Mr. Modi only said the Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes in the hands of black marketeers and the corrupt will become paper. Mr. Naqvi wants the pieces of paper comment should be expunged.

Our PM's name will be taken along with Mussolini, Hitler and Qadhafi, he says.

In the 50 days the PM is asking for, there won't be any buyer left for the rabi and kharib harvest, he says. "You have made our farmers into beggers. You won't be forgiven."

"More money has been deposited in States you are fond of", he says.

"You have been strategically preparing for 10 months by raising limits of amount to be sent abroad.

"You have power only to end a series of currency. But you have finished 86% of the currency. Who gave you the power.

Pramod Tiwari of the Congress joins Mr. Yechury in raising the demand for a JPC to probe the demonetisation issue. "You have reduced the govt. into a chit fund company."

Prem Chand Gupta of RJD asks: "If it was planned 10 months ago, how did RBI Governor Urjit Patel sign on new note?"

Chair asks FM about the 200% penalty, Mr. Jaitley says if the current income balloons hugely over last year's income, then 200% penalty will be levied.

The problem is serious and the pain will not go away in the days to come.

FM should clarify on 200% penalty as CAs are suggesting otherwise.

He likens the sufferings of people to labour pain and gives suggestions: coop banks to be allowed to exchange of money, private hospitals shoukld accept demonetised notes, families in which a marriage is due should be allowed withdraw more money.

"The river of the economy is being cleansed with this step. The money collected during this period should be used to help those in the need of bank loans," he says.

Tracing the history of black money, he says high taxation during Indira Gandhi's regime huge black money was getting generated. "Whenever taxation is high, black money gets created."

Naresh Gujral of the Akali Dal says people are welcoming the move.

"How can the DEA Secretary say things like "if colour comes off, it is a real note," he asks. Common man is in suffering and worried, he says while concluding his speech.

Informal sector is drastically affected says Mr. Patel adding to tackle black money not everyone should be made to suffer.

"90% of the trade in India is in informal sector.

Mr. Patel tells Mr. Goyal," You (govt.) opens its mouth less, the better becuase the ground situation is different."

Power MoS Piyush Goyal intervenes and assures that situation will become normal in 3-4 days. Rakes up the issue of "duplicate lines" and draws protests from the Opposition benches.

NCP's Praful Patel says the government was not even prepared to recalibrate the ATMs while announcing the move. People's suffering unimaginable, he says. Nobody is questioning the govt.'s intention, but you are unprepared to execute the move, he adds.

BSP chief Mayawati equates the situiation to a financial emergency. Says, "It looks as if Bharat has shut down."

Draws attention to a poor person who canot get a treatment due to lack of low denomination notes. The government has derailed the day-to-day life of the poor, farmers and the middle class, she charges adding the govt. is not paying attention to their plight.

"It's sad that the PM when he came back from Japan, where he made tall claims, he said at a rally in Ghazipur that he was against corruption. But, the arrangements to the rally were made by corrupt means," she says.

Should the PM not taken enough measures during his "10 months of preparation", asks Ms. Mayawati while charging that he took 10 months to hint his party and favourite people and the rich to take care of their big denomination notes.

She says BSP is a movement before a party and we have collected funds for common people, not from millionaires.

She says govt. was unprepared and helped only the rich to park their money. And now to hide your weaknesses you are charging other paties.

If it appears them to demonetise notes after two-and-a-half-years into power and just ahead of Assembly elections in U.P. and other States, then we can assume they are in a bad state in those States and people in the States will punish them, she says.

Anyway you decided to put ink in people's fingers, why don't you make it an election one, she asks.

Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) questions the government on the demonetisation move. He questions the logic behind the selective demonetisation. He says only 6% of black money in India is in cash to drive his point that demonetisation won't curb illicit wealth.

During the course of the debate, Mr. Yechury rakes up the funding of elections."Why should the corporates fund us? It's an investment for them," he says.

What is the meaning of the move. People can easily pass it off as Thuglak shahi, he says.

People are suffering and the suffering is increasing by the day, Mr. Yechury.

"Why are you agonising the people? Is 'I control your personal life" the message? What else it is if not a fascist message?" Mr. Yechury says.

"People can't treat their dear ones in hospital."

"Why selective relief? How can your unit in WB can deposit money before the PM announces it?

"This needs to be investigated. Either through a JPC or any other way.

"Immediately, till alternate arrangements are made, allow this notes to be transacted by all. The PM himself said it will take 50 days to do alternate arrangements.

“Modi Antoinette is telling us to use plastic money if you don't have plastic

"It is no longer Jai Hind. PM appears in ads and says Jio Hind

Sharad Yadav, JD(U) attacked the govt. move not allowing people to exchange money more than once.

AIADMK leader Navneethakrishnan asks the government and the RBI to ensure that poor people do not suffer due to the demonetisation.

Earlier in the day, Vikas Pathak reports on the debate in the House before lunch

Initiating the debate in the morning, Congress leader Anand Sharma says that for the first time since Independence, a Prime Minister has told the people of a big decision. He claims there were counterfeit currency in circulation. The House stands together on the issues of black money, terror, counterfeit currency and drug money.

Mr. Sharma questions the claim of the government that 86 per cent of the money under circulation was scrapped in one stroke. "Did you think that the majority of that money was counterfeit? Cash accounts for about 12-14 per cent of our GDP and the common man transacts using cash,'' he says.

"In August, the government said that only 0.02% of the currency in circulation was counterfeit. To scrap the money and create an undeclared emergency is strange. The government needs to tell if the money that was with the common people — the workers, the housewives and the government servant was 'black'. This is the message we sent to the world. Don't give the country a bad name," he says.

Mr. Sharma continues, "Agriculture is important in India. And, we are self-sufficient because of this. Most farmers take cash for their produce in mandis [markets]. The payments related to Kharif crops are yet to come, but and Rabi is already happening."

He says crores of people are waiting in queues and most people eat at dhabas, where cards are not accepted. "Do dhabas accept credit cards?" And, argues that if one has to go by that logic, then the U.S. should not print dollars. He claims the government has made criminals out of common people. "Which terrorist goes to bank with counterfeit notes? Common people do."

Mr. Sharma says that nations have sent advisories to their nationals to think before visiting India. Raising his pitch, he asks the government, "Which law gives you the right to make us beg before you for money we have earned?" And the government has broken the backbone of the economy — the cash transactions, he alleges.

Now, a bit of sarcasm from the Congress veteran. "You all have become surgeons without getting a doctoral degree." He says there is a surgical strike on everything. He demands the disclosure of the names of the people holding money in Swiss banks. "Reveal the names of those who took huge loans and did not pay back." He asserts that the country belongs to all, not to the govt.

The leader sharpens his attack on the govt. saying, "You did not get black money. You did not generate employment." If the current trend continues, the government would be forced to change their definition of 'achhe din'.

He wonders, "How is there such inefficiency if you had prepared it? Why could you not replace the notes?" He also attacks the Prime Minister, saying, 'Mr. Modi addressed the nation five times from Japan.' The Prime Minister was in a bullet train in Japan when people were standing in long queues outside ATMs and banks back home.

He says Mr. Modi also insulted former Prime Ministers by saying "people looted the country for 70 years." Mr. Modi also insulted the poor by saying black marketeers are standing in queues.

The attack gets personal now. Mr. Sharma says the Prime Minister travels the world, changes five attires a day and claims this renunciation.

Demonetisation was not kept as a secret, as claimed by the government. "Today a report has come. It says the SBI knew about demonetisation in March. In October, it was published in English papers. And, then in Dainik Jagran." He claims the government selectively leaked the information and the BJP units withdrew crores of money before the announcement.

It's BJP's turn. Minister Piyush Goyal speaks:

He begins with a rebuttal, saying, "I think Anand Sharma is weak in economics." He claims the country is welcoming Mr. Modi's decision. "Some people are worried, I understand. But the govt. cant help if the corrupt are unhappy." For the first time, honest people are being honoured and the corrupt are being punished.

And, while the Minister is speaking, BSP chief Mayawati says, "the Finance Minister seems sad. I request PM be called here." She says even the BJP members were looking sad and crestfallen.

Mr. Goyal continues, "the RBI realised that more than half of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes did not come into currency chests for quite some time." The announcement was made so that the hidden notes are replaced by new cash. He defends the government's initiatives to fight corrupt practices, cites steps taken by the govt. on coal blocks allocation and spectrum allocation.

"Why should be have pre-informed people? So that the corrupt took early steps?" The Minister says honesty and inflation are linked — more honesty, lesser the inflation. If the government gets more money in terms of taxes, it can spend more on welfare measures. The move also serves as a warning to This is also a warning to the corrupt. He calls the move a "festival of honesty and integrity".

On the hardships faced by people, he says the queues outside ATMs and banks are becoming smaller, except in 2-3 cities. The decision to demonetise was taken by the RBI.

Replying to Mr. Sharma's remarks on names of people holding accounts in Swis banks and taking a dig at the Opposition, Mr. Goyal says a former Finance Minister had told that foreign countries would not share information if the names were made public.

He elaborates on the rationale behind the decision, saying the step will bolster revenues and help the people. "It is unfortunate that political parties are opposing it." Attacking the Opposition, he says, "You claimed we are a government for businessmen. The step proves that we alone fight tax evasion and black money. The overdues are now being paid. And, it should make it clear that we are the ones fighting against black money."

Ghulam Nabi Azad says PM must hear out Opposition views

Leader of the Opposition in the House Ghulam Nabi Azad begins his address with an appreciation of Ms. Mayawati's statements. He says the Prime Minister doesn't know the sentiments of the main Opposition parties. And, proposes a solution. "If he hears it, the problems can be solved in an easier way."

Ram Gopal Yadav: no rich person suffered in this exercise:

Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav says the common people are facing a lot of trouble and claims that no rich person suffered in this exercise. There were no buyers even in Khan Market in New Delhi. The situation is worser than that of the one during Emergency, and claims that no one wins elections through money.

"Women have died of heart attacks after they losing their small savings," he says, adding that only the poor in villages are being subjected to this treatment. The demonetisation has had an impact on vegetable sellers who are throwing off their rotten vegetables. "No one accepts Rs. 2,000 note in villages."

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury interjects, says "no one is accepting my Rs. 2,000 notes since Nov. 9."

Mr. Yadav has a message to the Finance Minister. "Your core voter is angry as he deals in black money. Don't announce elections early, or women in villages will beat your activists with belan [rolling pin]!"

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