On the ninth consecutive day that Rajya Sabha was paralysed, Congress leader Anand Sharma invoked the Constitution to attack the government over demonetisation. Azad raised a point of order, saying the Constitution specifically says a person cannot be deprived of his property by the government. He questioned how the government is depriving the country and the common man of their own money in bank accounts by limiting withdrawals.
“It is illegal and there is no law under which this has been done,” Sharma said. “Even the Constitution does not allow the prime minister or the government to deprive the citizens of their money and property, especially bank accounts. Not one bill was tabled in the House. The prime minister and the government must answer,” he said.
The House began and ended with Opposition demands for the prime minister’s presence for resuming the discussion on demonetisation. In the morning, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said “Akrosh Diwas” is being observed across the country because of the prime minister’s announcement. He said it is the prime minister who is responsible for the situation and added the government had claimed the situation would improve in a week but nothing has changed.
The Samajwadi Party’s Ramgopal Yadav said workers are dying, factories and shops closing down and the weaker sections are facing problems. Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu said the Opposition has no monopoly over the House and alleged it does not want to take part in the discussion. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the opposition is not opposing currency withdrawal but the crackdown on black money.
With the Opposition demanding an apology from the prime minister for making statements outside the House attacking the Opposition, Naqvi said the PM need not apologise. “Why should he apologise… for breaking the back of black money hoarders and unmasking the corrupt… Should he apologise for empowering the poor and the weaker sections…. You should be apologising for what you are doing,” he said.
Amid slogans from both sides, the House had to be adjourned thrice in the morning. When Rajya Sabha met again at 2 pm, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman placed a notification on behalf of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley providing for exemption of central excise duty for the manufacture of PoS (Point of Sale) devices.
Soon after this, SP leader Naresh Agrawal raised a point of order. As he started, he made certain comments about the treasury benches which were objected to. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien eventually expunged the remark after listening to both sides. After Anand Sharma raised his point of order, Azad said this is the first time such an announcement has been made and the PM has not given a statement in the Parliament. He said some are saying the Cabinet was not informed and even the finance minister did not know. “Then how can he (finance minister) reply to the points raised by us. The prime minister should be here,” Azad said.
He said Modi can come to the Parliament library for events and address every rally in Uttar Pradesh but can’t come to the House. Naqvi said the government is ready for discussion like always. “You failed with your Aakrosh Diwas on the streets, so now you are disrupting the House proceedings,” he said. In the din, Kurien adjourned the House until Tuesday morning.