NEW DELHI: In one of the winding bank queues, Rahul Gandhi was spotted. Ostensibly there to exchange 4000 rupees in old 500 and 1000 notes for the new currency, the Congress Vice President stood at the Parliament Street branch of the State Bank of India queue to make a "statement''- that he was "standing by the people'' in their hour of ''suffering" in a show of solidarity.
"His is a political leader, what do you expect him to do in this hour of crisis-sleep at home?'' senior Congress leader Anand Sharma snapped, when asked what was Rahul's compulsion as he queued up for a photo-op.
As the rush to get old notes changed for the new pink rupee, and to get whatever hard-cash one could from ATMs for sundry daily expenses, continued on Friday, so did the slang-match between the political parties.
The Congress accused the Government of causing misery to the "poor'' citizen, Union Ministers on an overdrive to prove the move was being "appreciated'' by "90 percent'' of the population, accused the opposition of spreading canards.
Even BJP chief Amit Shah addressed the media to counter what was being seen by his political opponent as the backlash. Prime Minister Narendra Modi who enjoys the biggest following on twitter in this country, more than Amitabh Bachchan or SRK, reportedly lost 3,13,312 followers in a day. This was after he announced the demonetization scheme.
Citing the public anger, the Congress Vice President said: "There is no crorepati in the queue. Poor people are standing.for several hours. I want to say that the Government should be for poor people and not for just 15-20 persons.
He went on to add that "seeing the hardships of the people'' he came "to join them" and "exchange my Rs 4,000 with new notes". He claimed neither the media "nor your crorepati owners nor the Prime Minister will understand the problems faced by people". Freely interacting with the people standing in queue and listened to their troubles, Rahul had them take selfies with him.
However, he was not the only politician who had to stand in a queue. Many Members of Parliament who reached Parliament Annexes to quietly withdraw some hard cash, faced a hard time. Though the SBI had put up a circular stating that "only MPs will be allowed to draw cash'', the entire staff and some media persons had lined up and cash in the ATM was over in no time.
Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee was no less livid. She was neither ready to buy BJP chief's logic -that this was all about the nation's determination to fight corruption and terrorism or Finance and Power Ministers Arun Jaitley and Piyush Goyal's explanations that 'all-is-well'-the people are rather happy to stand in queues for the biggest economic reform ever, to help cleanse the 'corrupt system'.
Temperamental Banerjee took to accusing the Government of unleashing "political and economy anarchy'', and called upon all non-NDA parties to unite against the Government on its "hare-brain'' demonetization policy, come Parliament session.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's absence in Tokyo also came in for some critical remarks. Congress leader Anand Sharma briefing the media even questioned the legality of the move.