PM Narendra Modi ‘Ready For Notes Ban Debate’ But No End To Parliament DeadlockPM Narendra Modi must be present in parliament during the debate on notes ban, opposition had demanded. NEW DELHI: The government said today that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in parliament and ready to speak in a debate on the notes ban. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi arrived in parliament this morning and said, “I am here to speak, let’s see if the government allows it.” But the Lok Sabha was again adjourned till tomorrow, just over an hour after convening, amid slogan shouting, in an indication that the last three days of the winter session are likely to be washed out much in the way the entire session has been so far. Both sides accuse the other of running away from the demonetisation debate. Senior union minister Ananth Kumar accused the opposition parties of “sabotage”. Little legislative work has been done in the Winter Session and most bills, including those related to the mega reform Goods and Services Tax or GST look set to be pushed to the Budget session of parliament which begins in January.
The stand-off between the government and opposition over how to debate the notes ban continues. The opposition wants a vote at the end, the government says no. An offer from the Congress to discuss demonetisation under “no rule” was not received well by the ruling BJP last week. The opposition has demanded that PM Modi must be present through the debate and then explain the notes ban, accusing him of speaking only outside parliament. The BJP says the PM is ready to speak but the opposition has not allowed him to by disrupting parliament. If there is a debate, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi will speak first and the BJP fears that the opposition may, after that speech, disrupt proceedings and not allow PM Modi to speak. Both the BJP and the Congress have issued whips or orders that all lawmakers be present in parliament for the rest of the session. At a meeting this morning, the opposition decided it will demand in parliament the resignation of Union Minister Kiren Rijiju, who it has accused of facilitating a 450-crore scam in a big hydro-electric project in his home state Arunachal Pradesh. Mr Rijiju has denied the charges.
The Congress expects a counter-attack from the BJP over the AgustaWestland helicopter deal after former Air Chief SP Tyagi, arrested on Friday, alleged that the then Prime Minister’s office of the Congress government had tweaked the deal in favour of the UK-based helicopter maker. Congress sources said they expect the BJP to bring up the AgustaWestland issue to “divert attention from hardships facing people due to demonetisation,” amid a massive cash crunch that continues. The Winter Session, which began on November 16, will conclude on Friday, and has so far been washed out by continuous disruption by the opposition over PM Modi’s ban on 500 and 1000 rupee notes aimed at bringing back black or unaccounted money into the system, curb fake currency circulation and deter terror financing. “The Prime Minister has brought honest people on the streets while the rich and the corrupt are taking money through the backdoor of banks,” alleged Rahul Gandhi at a wholesale market yesterday, signalling a fierce attack in parliament if there is debate.The government has said it has the firm support of people in its battle against corruption. PM Modi has assured citizens that the massive cash crunch caused by the notes ban will ease within 50 days of his sudden announcement of November 8.