WEST BENGAL Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday spoke to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury and a host of other opposition leaders and mooted the idea of a united fight against the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
The Congress leadership too reached out to several parties and sources said leaders of several parties will meet on Monday to chalk out a joint strategy ahead of the winter session of Parliament, which begins on November 16.
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Sources in the Congress said the Trinamool Congress chief called Rahul and told him that the “people are facing a lot of trouble and we should jointly fight and protest”. She suggested that all opposition parties should jointly meet President Pranab Mukherjee and seek his intervention.
Yechury, who is in Tamil Nadu, told The Indian Express over phone that he too got a call from Mamata. “I told her that we are already protesting against it. We are already fighting in various places. I also told her that I will consult my colleagues, including those from Bengal, and will take a decision on Monday,” he said.
The Congress as well as several parties such as the CPM, CPI, SP and BSP have targeted the government, accusing it of taking the decision in haste and without proper planning and caution.
Sources in the CPM and other Left parties, however, ruled out a joint protest with the Trinamool Congress. But they were agreeable to floor coordination in Parliament. Almost all these parties have given notices in both houses of Parliament, seeking suspension of business to discuss hardships faced by the people due to the sudden withdrawal of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes, restrictions on withdrawal from banks and lack of cash in ATMs.
After speaking to Mamata, sources said, Rahul held a meeting with Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and deputy leader Anand Sharma. It was decided that the Congress should take the initiative to convene a meeting of opposition leaders and sources said leaders of various political parties could have a meeting on Monday.
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Mamata tweeted: “This is not an ego battle. I humbly appeal again to the government at the Centre. Save the common people from more suffering and the country from financial catastrophe by withdrawing this hasty decision. First please put a proper action plan in place, breathing space for people. Today I spoke with several political leaders regarding a joint movement and to meet Rashtrapati together. Let us all fight this together to give relief to common citizens, the poor and stop this financial anarchy.”
She said she spoke to the President. “…I briefed him about how common people are suffering because of demonetisation,” she tweeted. “I thank him for agreeing to meet representatives of political parties on Nov 16 or 17 where we will brief him in detail on the grim situation.”
Yechury said the demonetisation decision should be kept in abeyance till sufficient money is made available and ATMs are reconfigured to dispense the new Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes.
The Congress, meanwhile, hit out at Prime Minister Modi for his remarks that those who had indulged in scams are standing in queues to take out Rs 4,000 saying he has insulted the poor who have been standing in queues for the past three days. Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma also took a dig at him for saying that he had left his home and family for the country. With inputs from ENS, Kolkata