New Delhi, Dec 27: Training guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over demonetisation, a fractured opposition on Tuesday asked him to own responsibility for the chaos that ensued following the currency ban and demanded his resignation if the cash crunch persisted even after the 50-day deadline.
If Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi questioned Modi’s silence on corruption charges and held him responsible for the continuing hardships of the common people due to the notes ban, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee dubbed demonetisation a “mega scam” and said he ought to take moral responsibility and resign.
Both leaders addressed a joint press conference here, along with leaders of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the DMK, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Janata Dal-Secular, Indian Union Muslim League and All India United Democratic Front.
However several important partners in the anti-demonetisation campaign – the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), the Left parties, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP), skipped the event.
“The Prime Minister is telling the nation that he is fighting against corruption but when it comes to allegations against him, he does not respond,” said Gandhi said, referring to his repeated allegations that Modi benefited financially from Sahara and Birla corporate houses when he was Gujarat Chief Minister.
On demonetisation, he said it had no impact on corruption or black money laundering but was rather an attack on the country’s poor while creating “a new black market has emerged — to convert black money into white”.
“December 30 is near, but the situation is still the same. It is the Prime Minister who is responsible,” said Gandhi and asked Modi to tell the nation the “real motive” behind the move.
Banerjee who has been scathing in her attack over the decision to spike Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes, minced no words in lambasting Modi.
Besides calling demonetisation to be the “biggest scam” post independence, the West Bengal Chief Minister said the decision was “illegal and unconstitutional”.
“Modi ji, you asked for 50 days; people were losing their livlihood, dying due to starvation but yet they gave you that time. Now 47 days are over and only three days are left.
“We will wait for the next three days. But Modi ji, if things remain unsolved, will you take responsibility and resign as the Prime Minister?” she asked.
Accusing Modi of destroying the country’s federal structure, she said that the Prime Minister neither took Parliament into confidence before taking such a huge decision nor bothered to make even one line statement in Parliament after implementing it.
Claiming that over 107 people have died across India post demonetisation, she described the prevailing financial state as a “super-Emergency”.
She also mocked the cashless economy argument of the Centre.
In the name of cashless economy, the Modi government has gone baseless; it has gone faceless,” she quipped.
Like Gandhi, she too claimed a “hidden agenda” behind the demonetisation and said it has taken the economy 20 years back.
Notwithstanding the depleted strength, Banerjee insisted the opposition was united against the government over demonetisation and said a “common minimum agenda” on the issue will be worked out.
Both Gandhi and Banerjee harped on Modi owning responsibility of demonetisation woes.
“Demonetisation has made the whole country unstable. Modi must resign, this government must go otherwise, the people will throw it out,” she added.
Replying to media queries, Gandhi said: “We hold the Prime Minister responsible for this decision. If he doesn’t resign, we’ll put pressure on him to resign.”
The DMK and the RJD dubbed the demonetisation move “ill-conceived and anti-people”.
But soon after the opposition’s press conference, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad launched a counter-offensive, saying if Gandhi is seeking support of other parties, it is “the Congress’ defeat and BJP’s victory”.
Prasad said that the Congress leader “lacks maturity” and alleged that he was “trying to save the corrupt” by demanding to disclose in Parliament the names of accounts holders in Swiss banks.
Meanwhile, speaking in Dehradun, Modi strongly defended demonetisation and said the move, aimed at weeding out corruption, had broken the back of terrorism, drug and fake currency smuggling as well as human trafficking.