Eight Opposition parties under Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, and Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, on Tuesday, joined hands against demonetization and launched an attack on Prime Minister Modi, accusing the party of “corruption.”
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who had steered the Opposition’s unity, had invited 16 political parties, but in the end only eight turned up. Unexpectedly, no joint programme was announced, leaving it for parties to chalk out their own protest programmes on a common minimum agenda against demonetization. The Congress will launch its own nationwide protest from January 5.
The press conference was attended by the Trinamool Congress, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the DMK and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, while the JD-U, Samajwadi Party, BSP, CPI (M) and NCP decided to give it a miss. Ahead of the meeting, the leaders held a meeting at the Constitution Club. Sources said that Mrs Gandhi had carefully chosen the venue, so that it didn’t appear to look like a Congress sponsored programme.
On the issue of demonetization though, Opposition party members however seemed to slightly differ in their demands. While Mamata demanded the resignation of Modi for “pushing India back by 20 years through demonetization,” Rahul had a different slightly viewpoint. Instead of endorsing Mamata’s call for Modi to resign, the Congress vice-president wanted the PM to explain clearly why he went in for demonetization, “instead of constantly changing the goalposts.”
Rahul added, “We (Opposition) would certainly put pressure on him to resign if he neither justifies the move nor solves the problems of the people suffering from his arbitrary financial experiment.”
The Congress leader also continuously referred to allegations that Modi had benefitted financially from the Sahara and Birla corporate houses, when he was Gujarat chief minister.
In a counter attack on Rahul at a press conference at BJP headquarters in Delhi, union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad described him as “lacking maturity” as he kept making “baseless and shameless comments against the PM.” Prasad also pointed out that none of the Opposition leaders at the joint press conference had repeated Rahul’s allegations.
He went on to accuse Rahul of “trying to save the corrupt” by demanding a disclosure in Parliament the names of account holders received from foreign banks.