Opposition parties will launch a “massive” agitation against the Narendra Modi government over its decisions to demonetise high-value currency and the difficulties faced by traders due to introduction of GST. This was announced by senior Rajya Sabha member Sharad Yadav at a media conference here on Saturday. “We will announce a massive nationwide agitation very soon,” Yadav said, adding that leaders of opposition parties were busy discussing the issue. He did not indicate any date, but sources said the protest programme would begin after the festive season ends. It will coincide with the campaign for Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
“The next Lok Sabha polls will be fought on the issue of the current economic situation in the country,” Yadav, who leads a JD(U) faction, said. “The ill-conceived demonetisation and hasty introduction of GST devastated the economy and ushered in inspector raj like never before.” Quoting socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia, he said that when the government and Parliament were keeping silent, it was time (for political activists) to hit the road. He termed “an eyewash” the changes announced in the uniform tax regime stipulations on Friday. The move will not mitigate the problems faced by small and medium businesses, he declared.
By its two drastic decisions, the government has disrupted the continuity of business operations of people, Yadav said. There was a decline in industrial production and trading and the actual GDP figure was lower than what had been projected, he claimed, promising to come out with “the real figure” soon. “Ours is a cash economy,” Yadav said, wondering why was India was being taken for Europe. In a country where people live in far-flung areas and do not have access to computers and 24-hour electricity supply, it is strange that the government wants traders to file returns online, he said. Accounting mistakes like filing wrong entries had been criminalised and traders faced the prospect of being jailed, he said, adding that it was no wonder then that public anger against the government was building up.
The veteran leader alleged that Bihar and UP had witnessed 30-35 incidents of low-key communal violence during the recent Dussehra-Muharram seasons. “This is a new strategy,” Yadav said without linking it to any organisation. The Yadav faction will hold a meeting of its national council on Sunday. It will be also attended by Rajya Sabha member from Kerala MP Veerendra Kumar. Senior party leader Arun Shrivastav announced the induction of former Bengaluru police commissioner P K Ramaiah into the JD(U).
Yadav also slammed the National Green Tribunal order banning protests on the Jantar Mantar Road here. He said people could not be dislodged from “their sole protest site in the country”. He said the alternative venue, Ramlila Maidan, was in a densely populated area.