NEW DELHI: With the Opposition all set to observe Thursday, it will then be a month since demonitisation was announced, as a “black day”, there’s little hope of a breakthrough in Parliament.
The indication from the government side, however, was that Speaker Sumitra Mahajan will make an extra effort on Thursday to get the debate started under Rule 193, even as the Opposition adamantly demands that no discussion can happen unless it is under rule 184, which requires voting. The matter rested thus at the Business Advisory Council meeting, with no meeting of minds.
The Opposition parties, meanwhile, held two strategy sessions where the coming day’s agenda was discussed. The leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said a “black day” protest under the Gandhi statute might take place.
Some signs of a climbdown were visible in the Rajya Sabha. The treasury benches appeared to be offering an olive branch even as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley launched a counter-attack, telling the house that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had never declined to “intervene in the discussion” and that he (as the finance minister) was ready to give clarifications to the Opposition after discussions (a privilege only Upper House members enjoy).
Though Jaitley’s speech got drowned out and the Opposition went on to demand his resignation for “mishandling” the demonitisation move, there was no demand for an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday. That was the change.
Since Parliament would go on a four-day holiday on the occasion of Ed-e-Milad-un-Nabi, including December 12-13, the next two days become crucial. Meanwhile, the government has ruled out proroguing the winter session.
And at a BJP parliamentary party meeting, Modi said his government had given prominence to “Janshakti (people’s power)” over “Rajshakti (state power)” through the demonetisation decision. Recalling that he had gone to the Rajya Sabha on a couple of occasions, he said the Opposition stood “exposed” by still not allowing the discussion on demonetisation.
Also, he exhorted all BJP MPs to fan out and spread the word about the “benefits of demonetisation” and persuade people to adopt cashless transactions in the same manner as they canvass votes. Lauding the “discipline” of the people in accepting the decision, he recalled there had been frequent changes on policies regarding LPG cylinders during UPA rule. When the NDA government brought in the “Give It Up” campaign, millions of people readily gave up the subsidy, he added.