A united Opposition took its battle against the Modi government on the demonetisation issue from Parliament to the streets on Wednesday.
Even as nearly 200 Opposition MPs gathered in front of Mahatma Gandhi's statue on the Parliament House grounds in the morning to register their protest, they announced a joint countrywide protest, Jan Aakrosh Diwas, on November 28.
Protest by Left
The CPI(M), the CPI and other Left parties, which are observing a protest week from November 24 to 30, will take part in the all-India protest on November 28.
Interestingly, political parties that would never have been seen together on a platform were present at the protest: the Trinamool Congress and the CPI(M), the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, the DMK and the AIADMK all shared space.
The Trinamool, which has taken a leading role in the current protests demanding a total rollback of demonetisation, held another demonstration at Jantar Mantar, along with the Aam Aadmi Party, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Janata Dal (United) and the Samajwadi Party.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took to the streets of Delhi demanding the Prime Minister's ouster as the “country was not safe in his hands”.
Addressing protesters there, she said: “I can challenge that no one will vote for the BJP. If I were you [PM], I would have apologised to the public. Why you are so egoistic? You have branded everyone in the country a black-marketeer and have turned yourself into a saint.”
The Delhi unit of the Congress, simultaneously, held a demonstration on Akbar Road, with its members shouting slogans against the Prime Minister, and carrying banners that read: Badon Badon ko chod diya hain, garibon ko nichor diya (you have allowed the big people to get away while squeezing the poor).”
The CPI(M) has filed a petition along with those already in the Supreme Court against the replacement of the Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes, and a senior lawyer is likely to appear in court on behalf of the party.
Meanwhile, with Parliament unable to transact business, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan called a meeting of the Opposition MPs.
Opposition sources said she urged them not to shout slogans or hold up banners in the House, while adding that she would not be able to accept their demand for an adjournment motion.
Simultaneously, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar held talks with Congress and Trinamool leaders.
Mr. Kumar and other Ministers, the sources said, will continue deliberations with floor leaders of various political parties on Thursday.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi described the demonetisation exercise as the world's “biggest impromptu financial experiment”. He also repeated the Opposition’s demand for a joint parliamentary committee investigation into the alleged leak of the demonetisation decision to select corporate houses before it was announced. He demanded the Prime Minister’s participation in a debate on the exercise.