New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi must speak to parliament about his decision to suddenly cancel 500-and-1,000 rupee notes, the opposition insisted today, remaining united around its attack on the currency ban.
"The PM can speak on television, at a pop concert, but not to parliament," complained Rahul Gandhi, the 46-year-old Vice President of the Congress, referring to the PM's opening remarks at the Coldplay concert in Mumbai over the weekend, where Mr Modi, through video conference, quoted a verse from Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A Changin'."
The Congress is playing a pivotal role in the criticism of the notes ban, introduced in a sudden televised address on November 8 by the PM. Mr Gandhi has thrice joined lines outside ATMs at different banks in Delhi and Mumbai. He said he "wants to share the experience and hardship of the common man."
Yesterday, Mr Gandhi said that the PM had taken "the most important economic decision" without consulting more than "just 3-4 people", resulting in chaos and a nationwide cash crunch.
The 500-and-1,000 rupee notes that have been banned formed 86 per cent of the bills in circulation, and without them, India's largely cash economy has been paralysed. The government has reassured that there is no cash shortage, and banks say the crowds gathered to collect the new currency are slowly ebbing. The government has also tweaked initial rules to help farmers: they can now withdraw upto Rs 25,000 per week against their crop loans and use the old Rs 500 notes to buy seeds.
Nearly 80 billion dollars of the old notes have been deposited in banks so far.
The PM has asked people to bear with some hardship and allow him "just 50 days" till the end of the year to push forward his government's crackdown on black money.