Cash cut mints new political ties

Mamata and Kejriwal join forces, launch blistering attack on PM, mount protest at RBI in Delhi

Published - November 18, 2016 01:06 am IST - NEW DELHI

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his West Bengal counterpart, Mamata Banerjee, during a rally at Azadpur Mandi in New Delhi on Thursday.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his West Bengal counterpart, Mamata Banerjee, during a rally at Azadpur Mandi in New Delhi on Thursday.

: Chief Ministers Arvind Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee launched a blistering attack against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his government’s decision to demonetise Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency notes.

Addressing a rally at Azadpur Mandi in Delhi, the two CMs gave an ultimatum to the Centre to withdraw the scheme in three days, reasoning that demonetisation will take the country backward by 100 years. “A crisis of this proportion was not seen even during the Emergency,” Ms. Banerjee said.

Taking a jibe at Mr. Modi, she said people are talking about plastic economy “just because they have travelled to a few countries”.

“What do they know about the economy? People are dying here and they say it is a surgical strike on black money,” said the West Bengal CM.

Share the pain

She added that the PM should stand in the line with the people to understand their pain. She clarified that she is against black money but did not agree with the methods adopted by the Centre.

Joining her on the stage, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal tore into PM Modi over demonetisation. He termed demonetisation as the biggest scam of independent India. “People will deposit Rs. 10 lakh crore and Modiji will then waive off loans amounting to Rs. 8 lakh crore given to his corporate friends,” he claimed. Criticising the Centre’s new relaxation of rules for people who have a wedding in their family by allowing them withdraw up to Rs. 2.5 lakh, Mr. Kejriwal asked why an income tax raid was not done on former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister G. Janardana Reddy, who spent Rs. 500 crore on his daughter’s earlier this week.

“In fact, BJP and Congress ministers attended the wedding. I want to ask, ‘did Arun Jaitley spent just Rs. 2.5 lakh on his daughter’s wedding recently? But they want us — the common people — to spend Rs. 2.5 lakh on a wedding,” he said.

Till date, around 40 people have died while standing in queues.

Speaking on this, the Delhi CM said, “Is this patriotism according to Modiji? Who is responsible for the death of these people?”

Talking about the situation of traders in the city, he said that Azadpur Mandi was one of the busiest wholesale market, with shops stocked with fruits and vegetables.

No money, no buyers

“But ever since the demonetisation scheme was announced, it is seeing a downfall and now wears a deserted look. There are no buyers as there is no circulation of money in the market,” he said. While the two CMs addressed the crowd from the stage, the tension was palpable as BJP supporters had also flanked the venue with black flags and shouted slogans against those opposing the demonetisation. The police detained some of them.

Questions to RBI

After the rally, both Mr. Kejriwal and Ms. Banerjee protested outside the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) office at Parliament Street, asking bank officials to provide information on the availability of currency.

“How much currency is needed? How much printed? What is capacity [for printing]? How many more days will it take? Myself and Mamtadi at RBI to get this info,” Mr. Kejriwal tweeted. Ms. Banerjee told the media that they had gone the RBI’s office to find out whether the central bank has enough currency or not.

“Our main apprehension is a shortage of currency. We are here to check whether there is enough cash to disburse among the people,” she said.

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