New Delhi: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, led parliamentarians from her party and BJP ally Shiv Sena in a 1-km march on Wednesday from Parliament House to the presidential palace Rashtrapati Bhawan to petition President Pranab Mukherjee against the government’s currency ban.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had pledged his support to the march, but did not join it because, sources said, of the Shiv Sena’s presence. He does not have too much in the way of Aam Aam Aadmi Party lawmakers to offer – his four party MPs in the Lok Sabha have split.
Neither does the other opposition leader joining the march, Omar Abdullah, whose National Conference currently has no members in parliament.
In fair embarrassment for the government, the Shiv Sena has said sent its lawmakers – 18 in the Lok Sabha and three in the Rajya Sabha – to “meet the President in the leadership of Mamata Banerjee.”
That came about said the Sena’s Sanjay Raut, after Mamata Banerjee called Uddhav Thackeray, chief of the Shiv Sena. “It is not about opposition or ruling parties, its about the trouble faced by the people,” said Mr Raut.
The Shiv Sena chief has criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to abolish 500 and 1000 rupee notes in the government’s battle against black or untaxed money, for the hardships it has caused the common man amid a cash crunch.
Mamata Banerjee wants a rollback. “You take action against the corrupt, but why are you harassing 99 per cent commoners?” she said, criticising the decision of other major opposition parties like the Congress and the Left not to join today’s march.
“This is not about politics, this is about the country. The Congress, CPM can go later, Its their choice. No point in the doctor coming after death,” Ms Banerjee observed.
Congress leaders said the party wants to raise the issue in parliament first before escalating the matter to the President. But they are clear that in parliament, which convenes for the winter session today, the opposition will be united in its attack on the government on demonetisation.
PM Modi has rejected all demands to withdraw the notes ban, acknowledging the problems people have had to face as they line up at banks for rationed new notes and promising to resolve the situation within 50 days.
At an all party meeting on Tuesday evening, he sought the opposition’s cooperation saying, “We have launched a crusade against corruption, black money and fake currency, which is also behind cross-border terrorism. All parties should come together on this issue of national interest.”support in his government’s “crusade against corruption and black money.”