Leaders of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress shook hands with those of arch rival CPM as they met to discuss a united opposition response in parliament and outside to the government’s ban on 500 and 1000 rupee notes and its impact on people.
Mamata Banerjee, who is West Bengal chief minister, has spearheaded the effort to bring opposition parties together against the government’s decision, suspending her antipathy to the Left for opposition unity as the winter session of Parliament begins this week.
Today’s meeting was hosted by the Congress, which allowed the CPM’s Sitaram Yechury to put aside his reservations on joining a Trinamool Congress-led initiative. Also at the meeting were parties like RJD and Janata Dal (United).
While there was agreement that a united opposition would take on the government in Parliament, the Left and the Congress have still not said yes to Mamata Banerjee’s plan for a march on Wednesday to petition the President against the government’s notes ban and demand that it be revoked. They will be meeting again with other opposition parties like the BSP and DMK to iron out differences.
The Trinamool has also sought that all other work be suspended in the Rajya Sabha or Upper House as soon as parliament convenes on Wednesday, to discuss hardships faced by people because of a cash crunch since Prime Minister Narendra Modi suddenly pulled 500 and 1,000 rupee notes in an evening announcement on November 8.
There has been chaos and anger as currency notes have been rationed in new rules, leading to long lines at banks and ATMs and opposition parties have accused the government of being “anti-poor.”
“The government has shut the country, it’s like the BJP organised a Bharat bandh,” said Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, while Sitaram Yechury and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal criticised PM Modi for saying in a speech today that “poor people are sleeping peacefully” after the decision.
The government is firm that its demonetisation decision is pro-poor and designed only to punish those who have black or untaxed money. At a meeting of top BJP leaders on Monday evening to plan a counter strategy in Parliament, PM Modi said the entire country supports the decision and the government’s fight against corruption.
On Monday evening, the BJP won the support of its allies in the National Democratic Alliance.