New Delhi, Nov 13: The Winter Session of Parliament is set to begin from November 16. This round of Parliament is essential to pass legislations which would facilitate the implementation of Goods & Services Tax (GST) in the nation by April 1. The business of the House was expected to be affected in the initial period with issues ranging from Kashmir unrest, disappearance of JNU student Najeeb Ahmed to the alleged fake encounter of SIMI activists in Bhopal. However, the sudden demonetisation of currency and its implications on common people is bound to set the political agenda for weeks to come. On the issue of scrapping existing Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, the Opposition does not appear to be on the same page.
Among those who have been protesting demonetisation from the forefront include – Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). TMC has also given a notice in the Rajya Sabha to discuss the issue of currency demonetisation. TMC chief Mamata Banerjee has been highly critical of the move and called it ‘surgical strike’ on common people.
Similarly, Congress President Rahul Gandhi has termed the move of government ‘ill-conceived’ and aimed at creating a perception that the government is fighting black money. “Once again Mr Modi shows how little he cares about ordinary people of this country — farmers, small shopkeepers, housewives — all thrown into utter chaos. While the real culprits sit tight on their black money stashed away abroad or in bullion/real estate,” he said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has also used scathing words to condemn the ban on existing Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. Kejriwal claimed that such steps are taken by Modi government to save the “big fishes” and harass the ‘aam aadmi’ in the name of fighting corruption. He demanded the government to reveal the names disclosed to them by of 648 Indians with accounts in Swiss bank.
While Congress, TMC and AAP appear to lead the charge, an influential section of Opposition have not clearly opposed the move so far. While they have cited concern over its implications on common man, they have not dismissed the intent behind the move.
The crack within the Opposition was out in the open on Sunday when Communist Party of India (Marxist) ruthlessly dismissed the proposal of Mamata Banerjee to work together on the issue of currency demonetisation. CPI(M) MP Mohammad Salim said that “Trinamool is drowned in corruption” and added that there is no possibility of working alongside Banerjee.
Similarly, in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the respective state governments have not criticised the move in wholesome manner. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar welcomed the move, along with UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. The latter, however, raised apprehensions about the timing of the move since a lot of families would be affected in this marriage season.
Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik played no politics whatsoever while appreciating the intent of the move. “I am happy that the Union government has shown the political will of taking this decision. It has been a public suggestion to Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) pending since long. This move will help to check the circulation of black money,” said Patnaik, the chief of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and known for his clean image within the political circles.
Prime Minister Modi has also received support for demonetising currency from unexpected quarters. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar lauded the step, saying, “The intent of Modi is good. This move will curb black money and terror financing,” he said.
Important to note is that BJD, Samajwadi Party, JD(U) and NCP are likely not to support the stalling of business operations in the Parliament by Congress, AAP and TMC. They could question the government over the timing of the move, its implications on citizens and the poor planning of implementation.