New Delhi: After a week of acrimony in parliament, the opposition has planned countrywide protest on Monday against what they call the government’s “mishandling” of the currency ban. Only the Left Front, which has a presence in Kerala, Bengal and Tripura, has called for a strike or ‘Bharat Bandh’ in the three states.
Most of the parties had not called for a Bharat Bandh, a nationwide strike, in view of the huge costs involved, which according to the business lobby FICCI, can be Rs. 13,000 crore a day.
The Congress, Trinamool Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party said they do not want a strike but will hold protests across the country. The Congress has called it a “Jan Aakrosh Diwas”.
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who had started the call for a unified protest against the currency ban, will hold a march in Kolkata at 1 pm. Sources said a turnout of at least 1 lakh people is expected. The Aam Aadmi Party will hold a protest at Central Park, the heart of Delhi.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is staying away from the protests, saying he supported the currency ban and was “convinced” that it would help in the fight against black money.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took on the opposition at the BJP’s Parivartan Rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar, asking whether it was preferable to put a stop to corruption and black money or shut down the country.
The Congress hit back, saying it has not called for a Bharat bandh. “Misinformation has been spread by the BJP which is ill-informed,” said senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.
“Knowing the popular support to demonetisation, Congress has changed its tactics from calling for a countrywide bandh to Aakrosh rallies. It is clear that all this is aimed at finding space in the media as they have clearly lost out space in the debating forum of Parliament and the minds of the people,” said Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu.
Last week, the opposition stalled proceedings in parliament, demanding that the Prime Minister respond to the debate on notes ban and apologise for the decision that has put the common man in trouble. In Lok Sabha they have demanded a debate with a vote. The government has turned down all the demands.
The opposition parties agree on the principle of the currency ban, meant to flush out black money, but say the government has taken the step without adequate preparations, resulting in immense pressure and hardship for the common man.
Since PM Modi’s announcement of the currency ban on November 8, banks and ATMs have witnessed block-long queues. The cash crunch has meant deprived sections and small traders working and selling on credit. The government says move has received largescale support from the common man.