AS THEY gear up for a countrywide protest against demonetisation on Monday, Opposition parties on Friday demanded an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his remark that those accusing the government of not making ample preparation before the move are actually ruing their inability to take care of their black money. According to sources, Opposition leaders had an unscheduled strategy meeting on Friday and discussed possible ways in which the government may try to scuttle Monday’s ‘Aakrosh Diwas’ — the nationwide protest planned by the Opposition — and how they can counter such attempts.
At the meeting, an MP is learnt to have pointed out that the Opposition could find itself on the wrong foot if Modi decides to sit in the Upper House on Monday.
“So far, there are no indications that the Prime Minister will come to the House before next Thursday, when he is supposed to take questions. So we had assumed that no business will be conducted in Rajya Sabha for the next one week,” a source who was present in today’s meeting said. “At the meeting this morning, it was discussed that should the government so decide, the PM may walk into the House on Monday while we are caught up in the programme outside. We needed a contingency plan.”
The discussion on demonetisation has taken place in Rajya Sabha for two days so far — on the first day of the Winter Session, and on Thursday — until the House broke for lunch and the Prime Minister decided not to return.
In the interim, Rajya Sabha proceedings were a washout, as Opposition insisted on the presence of the Prime Minister. All major Opposition parties, including the Congress, Trinamool Congress, the Left parties, Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have finished speaking. The party scheduled to speak next is the BJD. There are apprehensions in the Opposition ranks that if Modi comes to the House on Monday before or after BJD has spoken, and asks to make an intervention, he would be allowed.
And that would take the steam out of Aakrosh Diwas, Opposition leaders fear.
“That is why it was decided that soon as the House convenes (on Monday), leaders across parties would seek the Prime Minister’s apology,” an Opposition MP said. “He has made some offensive remarks, and this is justified. He will not apologise and the House will not run.”
Opposition leaders would attend a meeting on Monday as well to decide what course to pursue in Lok Sabha. According to rules, if the Speaker is convinced that 50 or more MPs want a discussion under Rule 56, which has a provision for voting, it can take place. However, despite the support of more than 50 MPs, the discussion has not been allowed and parties are now mulling how to up the offensive.