CPI(M) on Thursday held the Prime Minister “singularly responsible” for the “mess” in the economy due to demonetisation and said it has renewed its contempt notice against him for continuously making policy statements outside Parliament and “running away” from a debate in the House.
Referring to Modi’s November 8 demonetisation announcement, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said, “The Prime Minister is singularly responsible for the entire mess in our economy because it was his announcement, as his personal decision and not that of the Union Cabinet. Let him be accountable to the House. Why is he running away from Parliament?”
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Observing that Modi was not present in Rajya Sabha on Thursday when questions on the PMO were listed to be answered, he said, “The Prime Minister avoids coming to the House, but continuously makes policy statements outside in public speeches. He is continuously violating parliamentary norms and practices.”
“Even today, there was clear violation as the waiver of service tax on credit and debit card transactions was made outside Parliament. … No tax proposal can be made anywhere else but in Parliament,” Yechury said, adding that the Consolidated Fund of India “will now get less service tax receipts because of the Prime Minister’s proposal”.
“That is why it is a contempt of Parliament. That’s where the stalemate is. It is completely against the norms and traditions of Parliament. I have renewed my (contempt) notice today and urged the (Rajya Sabha) Chairman (Hamid Ansari) to consider it and give his ruling. A meeting of the Privileges Committee has been called tomorrow,” he told a press conference.
Referring to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s statement that there was no rule to make the PM sit through any debate in Parliament, he said there are precedents when the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sat through two debates on the 2G spectrum allocation scam and the coal scam and replied to it.
“But here the Prime Minister is running away from debate,” he alleged.
He said the demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee to go into “all aspects” of effects of demonetisation including “the deaths of over 100 people”, the “harassment” caused to the public and “several” BJP leaders allegedly being caught with large amounts of cash, has been supported by several major Opposition parties in Parliament.
The CPI(M) leader said the demonetisation move, according to Modi, had the objectives of fighting blackmoney, corruption and counterfeit.
However, now the RBI says 82 per cent of the value of currency notes withdrawn have come back to the banking system, totalling about Rs 11.86 lakh crore and the old notes can be exchanged till December 30.
“At this rate, more notes than the value of counterfeit currency have been deposited and become legal in the banking system. So the PM has successfully converted black money into white and legalised counterfeit currency. None of his objectives have been achieved,” Yechury said, adding it “reveals a deliberate attempt to legalise counterfeit money and convert black money into white”.
Referring to French queen Marie Antoinette’s infamous quote ‘if you don’t have bread, have cake’, he said the Prime Minister has become “Modi Antoinette as he is saying ‘if you don’t have paper money, use plastic money'” when 98 per cent of Indian economy is cash economy.
Even in the US which has the reach of banking system and internet network is vast, 46 per cent of the economy runs on cash, he said, adding Modi has been “talking of a cashless economy and probably living in something like a fool’s paradise”.