PM Must Shun Chair Over Note Ban Failure: Mamata

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New Delhi: Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee stole the show at a joint opposition press conference today and said that instead of making the country cashless, the Centre has made its own existence “baseless” and rendered itself “faceless” following the November 8 decision to scrap high-value currency notes.

Banerjee dared PM Narendra Modi to resign saying that he had promised if the cash crunch situation doesn’t improve in 50 days from demonetisation, he would personally answer for it. And in a direct hit alleging the PM is authoritarian , Banerjee also said the government should have taken the Parliament into confidence before taking such a big step like demonetisation+ .

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“Will you resign as the PM, if things don’t get stable in 50 days, which is now almost over? What you’ve done (currency ban), has sent the country 20 years back in time,” the West Bengal chief minister thundered at a joint press conference with the Congress party, the RJD and a few other parties that earlier held a joint meeting to discuss what could become a “common minimum agenda” to take on the Centre.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who also addressed the press conference, focussed not just on demonetisation but also on what he calls+ “the personal corruption of the PM”. He was referring to PM Modi’s name featuring on an alleged list+ of those who received kickbacks from industrial houses. About the fact that his party colleague Sheila Dikshit’s name also features on that list+ , Rahul said she’s ready for an inquiry into it.

“Sheilaji has said that she is ready for a probe, why is the PM not ready for a similar probe?” Rahul asked.

While the Congress had hoped more opposition parties would join the meeting – the CPM and the NCP were among those who decided not to attend – Trinamool’s Banerjee more than made up for their absence with her sound and fury.

She brushed off the fact that some major parties didn’t attend by saying “some political parties didn’t come today because they’re busy, but we will all make a common minimum agenda”. She was referring to an agenda to deal with the myriad problems that demonetisation has caused the poor, including most of the farming community, daily wage labourers, small businesses and even much of the lower middle class.

“You promised ‘acche din’ (good days), is this a specimen of the ‘acche din’ you promised?” she asked the PM, referring to the BJP’s election campaign slogan that talked of “bringing back ‘acche din’ after years of misrule.”

Banerjee, in her address, was also her sarcastic best when describing what she thinks is the Centre’s unilateral behaviour.

“This is a fearless government, they do not care about anything, they don’t fear anything,” the Trinamool leader said. Then, in case anyone didn’t get her barb, she added: “They do whatever they feel like, the federal structure totally destroyed. This is not (like the) Emergency, it is super-Emergency,” she said.

Congress leader Rahul imputed sinister motives to demonetisation. He said the PM’s stated aims of eradicating black money with demonetisation have been “a big failure” and alleged that the Centre had “ulterior motives” to scrap high value currency notes.
“The PM needs to answer the nation regarding what the real objective was behind the note ban. He said if things don’t get better he will answer for it. Things haven’t got better. Black money has not been erased; instead a new black market has come up to convert the money. At the end of the day, like always, it’s the poor that are suffering,” the Congress leader said.

Demonetisation is “an attack on the financial independence, of the poor,” Rahul added.