Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal might have hit the right ‘notes’ in his speech at the rally against demonetisation at Azadpur Mandi Thursday but a section of the audience remained ‘unconvinced.’ Scores of daily wage labourers, who drafted in at the rear end after Kejriwal and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee arrived, listened with rapt attention but when the leaders dispersed, they insisted they were ‘hardly affected’ by demonetisation.
“Yeh sab bakwas hai. Humein toh paisa mil raha hai. Jo bhi Modi ne kiya theek kiya. Hamare paas toh pehle se hi paisa nahi tha aur jitna tha woh badli kara liya. Achha hua ki jinke paas kaala dhan tha usey dikkat ho rahi hai (All this is rubbish. We are getting our wages. Whatever Modi did was absolutely right. We did not have any money to begin with and whatever we had we got the old currency notes exchanged. Those who had money are in trouble),” Daya Shankar, who works as a daily wager loading and unloading goods at the wholesale fruit and vegetable market said gleefully.
Shankar was backed by his fellow labourers who engaged in heated discussions on how the issue was being ‘politicized’. They insisted it was their ‘moment of triumph’ against the haves.
Some of them even pulled out crisp new hundred-rupee notes out of their shirt-pockets as proof that they still ‘comfortably’ earned their Rs 600 a day. Wholesale fruit vendors too maintained their sales had recorded a ‘slight’ slump on the first couple of days after the demonetisation announcement but business had bounced back over the past week. AAP volunteers, however, dismissed them as ‘BJP workers’ sent to ‘disrupt’ the rally.
Kejriwal and Banerjee’s scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi might have fallen on some deaf ears but the examples cited by both, be it of an ailing son unable to get treatment or of a daughter’s wedding being called off due to cash crunch stirred the audience, nonetheless.
Particularly when Kejriwal took potshots at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and asked if he too had spent just Rs. 2.5 lakh on his daughter’s wedding, he received a rapturous applause from the crowd. Banerjee too moved the crowd with her impassioned speech, apologizing intermittently for her ‘poor Hindi’, but struck a chord when she wrapped up her speech saying, “No one is happy with you, PM Modi. Today if people were allowed a confidential vote, no one in BJP or even his family would vote for him.”