Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day following uproar by the Opposition over demonetisation. As soon as the session convened post-lunch, Opposition MPs began protesting over the Prime Minister’s absence and demanded that he must participate in the debate. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said it was not possible to ask PM Modi to attend the proceedings. “He was here for an hour, can’t ask him to be here thorough out the debate,” he said. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad said his party won’t allow the House to function if the Prime Minister skipped the discussion. In response, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accused the Opposition of trying to run away from the debate by finding excuses to stall the House. His comment triggered an uproar in the House and Opposition MPs began to chant: “Pradhan Mantri bhagh gaya“.
WATCH VIDEO: Former PM Dr Manmohan Singh Says Demonetisation Will Hit Growth
Earlier in the day, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, speaking in the Rajya Sabha Thursday, termed the Centre’s move to scrap old high denomination notes as a “monumental mismanagement”. Urging PM Modi to find “pragmatic ways” to alleviate the sufferings of the people, Singh said the 50 days time sought by the prime minister for things to normalise could have a detrimental effect on the poor section in the society. “The way this is being implemented, it will hurt farmers, small traders and those in the informal sector. The GDP of the country can decline by 2 per cent. I feel that the PM must come with some constructive proposal on how we can implement this scheme,” he said.
Saying that he doesn’t disagree with PM Modi’s decision to root out black money from the system, Singh warned the Centre that the alleged deaths due to demonetisation can weaken public’s confidence in the currency and banking system. “60-65 people have lost their lives, what has been done can weaken our people’s confidence in currency and banking system,” Singh said. He asked PM Modi, who was present in the House, whether he could name any country where people have deposited their money but are not able to withdraw it. With the Finance Ministry introducing new norms everyday, Singh said that it wouldn’t reflect well on PM Modi and it exposed RBI’s poor planning.