Live: Rajya Sabha discusses demonetisation

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The Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day after Speaker Sumitra Mahajan read out the obituaries of former members of Parliament. The debate over demonetisation is under way in the Rajya Sabha.

Vikas Pathak covers the debate in RS over demonetisation

Congress leader Anand Sharma initiates the debate. He says for the first time since Independence, a Prime Minister has told the people of a big decision. He claims there were counterfeit currency in circulation. He says the House stands together on the issues of black money, terror, counterfeit currency and drug money.

He says, ’86 per cent of the money under circulation was scrapped in one stroke’ and questions the govt., “Did you think that the majority of that money was counterfeit?” He claims cash accounts for about 12-14 per cent of our GDP and the common man transacts using cash.

“In August, the government said that only 0.02% of the currency in circulation was counterfeit. To scrap the money and create an undeclared emergency is strange. The Government needs to tell if the money that was with the common people — the workers, the housewives and the govt. servant was ‘black’. This is the message we sent to the world. Don’t give the country a bad name.”

“Agriculture is important in India. And, we are self-sufficient because of this. Most farmers take cash for their produce in mandis (markets). The Payments related to Kharif crops are yet to come, but and Rabi is already happening.”

He says crores of people are waiting in queues and most people eat at dhabas, where cards are not accepted. He questions, “Do dhabas accept credit cards?” And, argues that if one has to go by that logic, then the U.S. should not print dollars. He claims the governments has made criminals out of common people.

He continues, “Which terrorist goes to bank with counterfeit notes? Common people do.”

Mr. Sharma says that other nations have sent advisories to their nationals to think before visiting India. Raising his pitch, he asks the government, “Which law gives you the right to make us beg before you for money we have earned?” And, says the government has broken the backbone of the economy — the cash transactions.

Now, a bit of sarcasm from the Congress veteran, “You all have become surgeons without getting a doctoral degree.” He says there is a surgical strike on everything. He demands the disclosure of the names of the people holding money in Swiss banks. “Reveal the names of those who took huge loans and did not pay back.” He says the country belongs to all, not to the govt.

The leader sharpens his attack on the govt. “You did not get black money. You did not generate employment,” he says. He says if the current trend continues, the they government would be forced to change their definition of of ‘achhe din’.

He wonders, “How is there such inefficiency if you had prepared it? Why could you not replace the notes?” He also attacks the Prime Minister, says ‘Mr. Modi addressed the nation five times from Japan.’ He says the Prime Minister was in a bullet train in Japan when people were standing in long queues outside ATMs and banks back home.

He says Mr. Modi also insulted former Prime Ministers by saying “people looted the country for 70 years.” Mr. Sharma says Mr. Modi also insulted the poor when said saying black marketeers were standing in queues.

The attack gets personal now. Mr. Sharma says the Prime Minister travels the world, changes five attires a day and claims this renunciation.

He says demonetisation was not kept as a secret, as claimed by the government. “Today a report has come.It says the SBI knew about demonetisation in March. In October, it was published in English papers. And, then in Dainik Jagran.” He claims the government selectively leaked the information and the BJP units withdrew crores of money before the announcement.

It’s BJP’s turn. Minister Piyush Goyal speaks:

He begins with a rebuttal, says “I think Anand Sharma is weak in economics.” He claims the country is welcoming Mr. Modi’s decision and says, “some people are worried, I understand. But the govt. cant help if the corrupt are unhappy.” He says for the first time honest people are being honoured and the corrupt are being punished.

And, while the Minister is speaking, BSP chief Mayawati makes a point. She says, “the Finance Minister seems sad. I request PM be called here.” She says even the BJP MPs were looking sad and crestfallen.

Mr. Goyal continues, “the RBI realised that more than half of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes did not come into currency chests for quite some time.” He says the announcement was made so that the hidden notes are replaced by new cash. He defends the government’s initiatives to fight corrupt practices, cites steps taken by the govt. on coal blocks allocation and spectrum allocation.

Defending the move, he argues, “Why should be have pre-informed people? So that the corrupt took early steps?” The Minister says honesty and inflation are linked — more honesty, lesser the inflation. He says if the govt. get more money in terms of taxes, it can spend more on welfare measures. The move also serves as a warning to This is also a warning to the corrupt and calls the move a “festival of honesty and integrity”.

On the hardships faced by the people, he says the queues outside ATMs and banks are becoming smaller, except in 2-3 cities. The Minister says the decision to demonetise was was taken by the RBI.

Replying to Mr. Sharma’s remarks on names of people holding accounts in Swis banks and taking a dig at the Opposition, Mr. Goyal says a former FM had told that foreign countries would not share information if the names were made public.

He elaborates on the rationale behind the decision, says the step will bolster revenues and help the people. “It is unfortunate that political parties are opposing it,” he says. Attacking the Opposition, he says, “You claimed we are a govt. for businessmen. The step proves that we alone fight tax evasion and black money. The overdues are now being paid. And, it should make it clear that we are the ones fighting against black money.”

He ends his speech.

Now, it’s the turn of Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Mr. Azad begins his address with an appreciation for Ms. Mayawati’s statements. He says the Prime Minister doesn’t know the sentiments of the main Opposition parties. And, proposes a solution. “If he hears it, the problems can be solved in an easier way.”

Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav speaks:

The leader says the common people are facing a lot of trouble and claims that no rich person suffered in this exercise. He says there were no buyers even in Khan Market in New Delhi. He says the situation is worser than that of the one during Emergency and claimes no ones wins elections through money.

“Women have died of heart attacks after they losing their small savings,” he says, adding that only the poor in villages are being subjected to this treatment.

Modi speaks ahead of session

He begins his address to the media by thanking the Opposition parties for allowing the passage of the GST Bill in the previous session. He assures that the winter session would see “a very positive discussion” on all issues.

He asserts that the government believes in debating every issue in an “open manner.”

PM asks parties to unite in national interest

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday appealed to all political parties to let a “signal go from the winter session of Parliament that all parties can come together on an issue of national interest,” referring to his decision to demonetise currency of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 on November 8, at an all-party meeting called by his government on the eve of the session.

The Opposition, however, strongly demanded an honest debate on demonetisation, as the suffering of the common people on the ground was getting worse by the day. It also wanted to know whether or not members of the ruling party had been tipped off before the announcement of the decision.

Government managers said they were ready for a debate but apprehended a washout of at least a week and a half of an already abbreviated session of 22 sittings. More…

Now, ink to deter repeat cash swap

The government on Tuesday asked banks to start using indelible ink to mark and identify persons who exchange old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes upto Rs 4,500 to ensure that the facility isn’t used multiple times, even as people continued to queue up for cash to meet their daily needs at banks and ATMs across the country. More…

Arvind Kejriwal’s allegations

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday alleged on the floor of the Delhi Assembly that an Adtiya Birla Group company paid a bribe of Rs. 25 crore to the then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi.

The development comes hours after The Hindu reported on a complaint filed by advocate and activist Prashant Bhushan with the Central Board of Direct Taxes pertaining to a set of documents recovered by the Income-Tax Department from the premises of two major industrial houses, detailing alleged massive payouts to prominent politicians. More…

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