New Delhi [India], Nov. 24 : Intensifying their attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government over the demonetisation drive which they alleged has hurt the common man, the Rajya Sabha today witnessed noisy scenes as the Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC), Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party fired fresh salvos at the ruling dispensation while calling for a pragmatic solution in the interest of humanity.
TMC leader Derek O'Brien dubbed demonetisation as a "big black scandal" and said that this announcement by the government has hurt one and all.
"It is now no longer one or two people, its 16 opposition parties here. It is the voice of the people. What are you doing about electoral reforms? 80 percent of donations to parties are from unknown sources.
Six percent of black money is in cash, what about the rest?" he asked. In a direct attack on Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Derek said secrecy cannot be the excuse of putting people in pains.
"If you had to keep it secret, what prevented you from printing 100 rupee notes? Mr (Arun) Jaitley you are squirming in your seat, you are turning away, perhaps you did not know that this was coming," he said.
"A minister of the government told me, he said he did every transaction with plastic (money). 90 percent of the debit cards in India are used to withdraw money from the bank," he added. The TMC leader alleged that this government has a mindset problem. "You once again conducted a poll on WhatsApp saying 93 percent are happy - who are these 93 percent?" he said.
Derek also attempted to corner Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said those opposing this policy are not "anti-national".
"PM ji with all due respect, anybody who opposes your policy is not in favour of black money, they are not anti-national.
We are opposing it because the common man is suffering," said Derek. "Please understand this is not an ego battle, we have to find a solution. It's good that you have come to listen to us after five days of not listening to us. The people have been suffering across the board. We have nothing against plastic money but everything has time. If a minister wants to buy his sabji and laundry with plastic money, he can but not everybody can," he added.
Samajwadi Party's Naresh Agarwal earlier came down heavily on the Centre's demonetisation move and alleged that the decision was taken keeping in mind the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.
"You have taken this decision with Uttar Pradesh polls in mind. Has any direction been given to cooperative banks to give money to the people? It was this BJP which opposed the nationalisation of banks.
I want to find out the NPAs in banks. Why haven't you caught Vijay Mallya? I asked a question about Lalit Modi and Vijay Mallya, but the Prime Minister wasn't present in the House," Agarwal said.
Escalating his attack on Prime Minister Modi, Agarwal urged the former to stop making emotional speeches and start talking about the truth.
"When you talk about threats to your life, we are deeply hurt. You can move around without worry in Uttar Pradesh because the law and order situation there is very good.
Nobody is ready to provide change for Rs 2,000. Please specify on this point also. Until this is not discussed in the Parliament, how can we enforce something like this?" he added. Asserting that this is a financial emergency, the Samajwadi Party leader said such things should not be done without parliamentary passage.
"How much of black money is there in foreign lands? Each day a new notification comes from the government.
Dictatorships take such decisions. Such things should not be done without parliamentary passage," he added. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati also escalated her attack on the government while highlighting the concerns of those residing in villages.
"No one disagrees with your (government) objective. The way you have implemented it is not correct. The people are suffering in villages. It is completely wrong that over 90 percent support your move," she said while questioning the government's claims that majority support the demonetisation move.
Former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh also vented his ire at the government's decision and alleged that monumental mismanagement has been undertaken in implementation of demonetisation.
Dr Singh asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to find out a practical and pragmatic solution to prevent this distress that has been caused to the common public.
Dr Singh, who led the Congress charge in the Rajya Sabha, highlighted the problems of demonetisation. "It is important to take note of the grievances faced by the people over demonetisation in the country.
The PM has said that we should wait for 52 days, it is a short period. But for those who are poor and deprived, those 50 days can bring about a disastrous affect in the country," said Dr Singh.
The former prime minister said demonetisation can weaken and erode the confidence in the currency and banking system in the country.
"I would want to know from the PM the names of any countries he may think of where people have deposited money in the banks, but are not allowed to withdraw their money.
This alone I think is enough to condemn what has been done in the name of demonetisation," said Dr Singh.
"In my opinion this scheme of demonetisation, the way it is being implemented will hurt the agriculture growth in our country, will hurt small industry, will hurt all those people who are in the informal sectors in the economy," he added.
Dr Singh further said the national income that is the GDP of the country can decline about two percent as a result of this move.
"This is an underestimate and not overestimate, therefore, I feel that the PM must come with some constructive proposal of how we can implement this scheme and at the same time prevent this distress that has been caused to the common people.
It is no good that every day the banking system comes with modification of the rules, the conditions with which the people can withdraw money that reflects very poorly on the PM's office, on the FM's office and on the RBI," said Dr Singh.
"I am very sorry that the RBI has been exposed to this sort of criticism which I think is fully justified," he added.
Meanwhile, the Rajya Sabha has been adjourned till 2 p.m. The Rajya Sabha earlier witnessed noisy scenes after the Opposition demanded that Prime Minister Modi should be present in the House during the resumed discussion.
Leader of the House Arun Jaitley objected to the decision of the Deputy Chairman to allow the former prime minister to speak in the Zero Hour.
He said if Dr Singh wants to speak on demonetisation, then the House should resume the discussion. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi suggested that the House first take up the discussion and Dr Singh can participate.