A DEBATE on demonetisation, initiated by the opposition BJP in the Assembly, witnessed frayed tempers after ruling party member Rajesh Dharmani, who is also chief parliamentary secretary (CPS), raked up Rahul Gandhi’s graft charges against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
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This was strongly objected to by leader of opposition, Prem Kumar Dhumal, and some BJP members, who demanded that Dharmani’s remarks be expunged or the BJP would retaliate with corruption charges against top Congress leaders in the National Herald case and the Agusta Westland scam. Deputy Speaker Jagat Singh Negi, who was presiding, refused to expunge the remarks, saying it was a passing reference.
The discussion was tabled by Mohinder Singh, who praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his drive against black money and asked the state government to support the move, which was in the national interest to deal with corruption, terrorist funding and fake currency.
In his reply, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh declared that the state government had adopted a policy of zero tolerance towards black money. The government was not opposed to the resolve to deal with black money but the Prime Minister had taken a decision on demonetisation without anticipating problems or taking prior steps to deal with them.
“Hawen mein logon ki khushiyon ki aahuti nahin dee jati (You can’t sacrifice the comforts of people in a yagna),” said the CM, also giving details of currency seizure at four places, including Rs 76 lakh, by police near Sundernagar after the demonetisation.
Earlier, BJP member Satpal Satti hailed the Prime Minister’s move, calling it historic and reminded the Chief Minister that he himself had welcomed the decision initially. Satti asked the CM to launch a drive against those holding black money in the state by giving orders to the vigilance bureau and also assist the central agencies in curbing black money. And, he hoped that things would normalise in another few days.
Asha Kumari, Dalhousie MLA and currently party in-charge for Punjab, launched a scathing attack against Modi for throwing the country into a crisis without making prior arrangements even to calibrate the ATMs to dispense the new Rs 2,000 notes. “Even a worst kind of tailor doesn’t stitch the suit before taking measurements but Modi totally blundered on such a matter of country’s economy, ignoring people’s practical problems. Now, 50 days are going to happen soon and, I am sure there will not be any end to the problems of crores of countrymen standing at queues at banks and ATMs,” she added.
Others who spoke included CPS Nand Lal, I D Lakhanpal, Jagjivan Pal, Col (Retd) Inder Singh, Govind Thakur and Govind Sharma.