WEST BENGAL Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday led a rainbow delegation comprising Trinamool Congress, Aam Aadmi Party, BJP ally Shiv Sena, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (of Hardik Patel) and National Conference to Rashtrapati Bhawan to protest against the decision to withdraw Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.
A memorandum was submitted to President Pranab Mukherjee demanding rollback of the decision.
Coming out of Rashtrapati Bhawan, Banerjee said: “ATM used to be ‘all-time money’; it has now become ‘ayega tab milega’. They are backing industrialists and making the poor suffer. The President was once Finance minister and knows the situation in the country more than anyone else does. He will take appropriate action.”
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Stating that her party, the Trinamool Congress, will move an adjournment motion in Lok Sabha, Banerjee said, “This (scrapping high-value currency) was done without any planning. It is a constitutional crisis, a financial emergency. There is a problem in law and order in the entire state (country). One cannot buy food using credit card.”
Sources present in the meeting said all members spoke to the President about the situation in their respective states. While Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal stayed away because he did not apparently want to be seen in the same forum as Shiv Sena, suspended AAP MP Bhagwant Mann represented the party. Shiv Sena was represented by a six-member delegation led by Anandrao Vithoba Adsul.
There were fears in Trinamool ranks of a last-minute pullout by the Sena following reports of various BJP ministers, and even Prime Minister, reaching out to the NDA ally to stay away. The fear was allayed following a conversation between Trinamool MP Dinesh Trivedi and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and the party was represented in the protest march. But the original plan of embarrassing the government by getting Heavy Industries Minister Anant Geete to march against the government did not materialise. Former Jammu & Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah represented his party, the National Conference.
The memorandum submitted by the parties to Mukherjee called for immediate suspension of the decision to demonetise currencies of higher denomination, time to implement a planned strategy to attack black money, ensure supply of essential commodities, and to stop harassment of the common people. It stated: “…The entire step of demonetisation is a black scam. We demand that a proper investigation be made to identify the perpetrators of this scam. We also demand that those responsible for loss of mandays (work days, due to people standing in lines to withdraw or exchange money) and loss of GDP be made to make good the losses. It should not be passed to the common people to bear the burden for no fault of their own.”
Stating that the government should extend the deadline of accepting old currency notes, Sena leader Gajanan Kirtikar, who took part in the march, said, according to PTI, “We welcome the demonetisation move, but we are against the inconvenience caused to people due to it. We have not signed the memorandum (to the President). We are going to submit a separate memorandum seeking redressal of inconvenience caused to people. We also want the period to be extended.”
Later, Banerjee said in Parliament, “The President is the guardian of the Constitution. We went to him because there is a constitutional crisis. There were eight days when anybody else could have asked for his intervention. Nobody did. This is about the common man and what he is facing.”