New Delhi, Nov 15: As people across India continued to queue outside banks and ATMs for money, a splintered opposition on Monday showed the first signs of coming together against Prime Minister Narendra Modi since he took power in 2014 — over the demonetisation move.
As they launched separate but sharp attacks on the Modi government, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee continued her efforts to bring together select parties against the November 8 decision which has sparked an unprecedented mass cash crunch across the country.
And even as Modi justified the demonetisation drive and claimed the poor were sleeping in ease, opposition parties took turns to lambast him for the hardships and suffering of the common people and some called for its rollback or suspension.
The Congress blamed the government for what it said was an “economic anarchy” while the CPI-M vowed to pin down the Modi government in Parliament.
Even two key BJP allies, the Shiv Sena and the Akali Dal, came out against demonetisation. The Sena was particularly bitter, asking if people would ever support Modi again.
Trinamool Congress chief Banerjee, who has urged the opposition to fight jointly, termed the demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes a “killer” for the common people and accused Modi of insulting the poor by saying they were sleeping peacefully.
“The economy has already lost a staggering Rs 1.5 lakh crore in only six days,” she said in Kolkata.
Banerjee warned that the currency spike, which has led to millions thronging banks to deposit or exchange the now worthless currency and also to withdraw money, could lead to economic recession.
Banerjee will reach New Delhi on Tuesday and meet among others Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, who has come out strongly against the demonetisation.
And in a bid to drum up support against the Centre, Banerjee on Monday telephoned Sitaram Yechury, whose CPI-M is her biggest and long-standing rival in West Bengal.
Yechury said the Centre’s move won’t help tackle corruption and black money.
“Our agenda is to pin the government on the floor of the house,” said Yechury and demanded that the demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes should be accepted by public utilities and hospitals till alternate arrangements were made by authorities.
He said the CPI-M will take a call on Banerjee’s unity appeal only after the government’s response in Parliament.
The Congress said it was for a collective fight against the Modi government.
“The entire country has been plunged in economic anarchy by a dictatorial and autocratic Prime Minister and his government,” Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said.
“What’s the reason that none of the BJP leaders or ministers is standing in the queue when the entire nation is standing to get their money?” he asked.
Kejriwal also called for an immediate withdrawal of the “poorly planned scheme”.
“It is the poor who are camping outside banks and it is Modi’s friends who are sleeping peacefully,” he said, countering Modi’s claims that the poor were sleeping well while the rich were “taking sleeping pills”.
BSP chief Mayawati accused Modi of fooling the people over demonetisation by claiming it will end the menace of black money.
Due to the hasty and ill-planned decision of the Prime Minister, people in the entire country were on the roads, she said in Lucknow.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav urged Modi to provide immediate relief to the farmers who he said were saddled with worthless currency during farming season.
“Farmers are facing immense difficulties in arranging seed and fertilisers in the Rabi crop season. They are also not able to utilise the earnings of the Kharif harvest and put these to their use,” he said.