New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is violating a basic duty to update parliament on a huge decision, said Left leader Sitaram Yechury to NDTV today. Mr Yechury said he is consulting other parties and constitutional experts about whether it is possible to initiate contempt of parliament proceedings against the PM, who has so far not spoken to lawmakers about his sudden decision to cancel Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
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Mr Yechury conceded that there are no specific parliamentary rules that could be used against the PM in this case, but that lawmakers can move for action if they feel their rights and privileges are being violated.
Like other opposition parties, the Left says it is astounded at the PM's refusal to comment on his big move in parliament. "He has time to speak on television, address a pop (Coldplay) concert, but not talk in parliament?" rebuked Rahul Gandhi today.
Mr Yechury said that the PM has spoken outside parliament on multiple occasions on outlawing the high-denomination notes, and is constitutionally obliged to explain the decision formally to legislators. "There is a constitutional breakdown," he said.
Since the winter session of parliament began last week, the opposition has collated to accuse the government of causing havoc with poor preparations to minimize the impact of withdrawing the old notes, which amounted to 86 per cent of the cash in circulation.
At least 70 people who have died since the reform was introduced have been linked by the opposition to long waits at banks or stress caused by the notes ban.
The Supreme Court earlier this week warned "there could be riots" as it urged the government to urgently find ways to alleviate the hardship caused to people. The government has asserted that the new currency is regularly being dispatched to banks. It has also allotted 36,000 crores to be rushed to rural areas which are hit hardest by the yanking of old notes.
The opposition is insistent on a statement from the PM in the Rajya Sabha, where the government is in a minority. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that his offers to speak on behalf of the government have been declined by the opposition, which proves other parties have no real wish to engage in a debate.
In a speech described as highly emotional by those in attendance, the PM told his party's lawmakers this morning that the notes ban is "the beginning and not the end" of his crackdown on corruption.