Following disruption by the opposition parties demanding the presence of the Prime Minister in the Rajya Sabha, deputy speaker Kurien adjourned the house till Friday.
Calling the demonetisation operations a 'monumental mismanagement', ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday gave a strong speech in the Rajya Sabha. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also present to acknowledge the on-going debate.
Speaking on behalf of Congress and thereby the Opposition as well, the former finance minister questioned the government, “In which country can people not withdraw their own money, which they have deposited?”
Emphasising on the 'give-it-50-days' aspect, Singh iterated that these 50 days can bring disaster to the poor and that the GDP of the country can drastically decline.
He urged the Prime Minister to find practical ways and means to cure the ongoing distress. Singh also said that the criticisms about demonetisation are fully justified as the Centre has been making new rules every day and this reflects poorly on the PMO, FMO and the RBI.
The former PM also spoke about how 90% of informal sector has been hit due to demonetisation and how most of the co-operative banks in rural areas are non-functional. Singh concluded his speech by bringing to light how the confidence in currency may get eroded.
Carrying forward the debate, Rajya Sabha member and Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agrawal hinted that the PM’s note ban move was taken in the wake of the upcoming UP assembly elections.
His punchline during the angry attacks by the opposition made both PM Narendra Modi and finance minister Arun Jaitley laugh for a brief moment.
During the debate, Agarwal joked, “There are those who say that the Prime Minister did not take Arun Jaitley into confidence. Had Arun ji known, he would have whispered this to us, he knows me”.
Secrecy cannot be the excuse for putting people in pain: Derek O'Brien
"Everybody is against corruption," this is how Trinamool Congress spokesperson and RS member Derek O'Brien opened his speech.
With bullet points ready to address the House during the debate over demonetisation in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he questioned, "How will my poor brothers and sisters by aata and chawal tomorrow?”, something that the Bengal CM and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee has been reiterating over the last two weeks.
Terming former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention as 'erudite', he questioned the Centre in the same vein, “What have you done to bring black money from abroad?”
“Only 2% people hold black money, then why other 98% people are suffering due to demonetisaton,” asked Derek.
Derek emphasized how this was not an ego-battle and iterated that the Opposition had offered concrete solutions for implementation. Some of them were, usage of old notes until enough currency was dispensed and printing smaller currency notes.
He remarked, “Secrecy cannot be the excuse for putting people in pain.” Questioning Jaitley as to what prevented the centre from printing 100 rupee notes all of the last year,
Derek quipped saying, perhaps the Finance Minister himself wasn't aware of such a move till the last day.
Derek went on to throw numbers about the usage of plastic money in India and specifically emphasized on how 4 out of 5 villagers don't even have a bank account.
He concluded his long address in the Parliament by saying, “ Anyone who opposes your decisions (demonetisation) isn't anti-national or corrupt. Why are you making such statements an issue?”
As the session was closing for lunch, BSP chief Mayawati urged that the Prime minister stays afterwards too, and that her party believes in the motives behind demonetisation.
However, the implementation of this move has left the common masses suffering, she added.