Pic Courtesy – NDTV
New Delhi, Nov 23 (NIA) – Over 200 opposition lawmakers, held a protest in India’s Parliament on Wednesday, calling for the government to revoke a ban on high value bank notes.
Opposition lawmakers stood in a single line at the Gandhi statue in the Parliament complex, in the Indian Capital New Delhi, disrupting parliamentary proceedings.
“We are in a line like the nation is,” said the opposition Congress Vice-President, Rahul Gandhi, referring to the long queues which had lined up outside banks and ATMs across the country within the past month as people struggled to get new currency notes.
Gandhi and his fellow lawmakers also demanded the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Parliament on Wednesday to listen to them and tell the nation why he took a decision that “hit the people and the economy”.
Gandhi further described demonetization of high-denomination currency as the biggest impromptu financial experiment in the world saying the decision had hit the Indian economy. He also alleged that the Finance Minister or the Chief Economic Adviser did not know of the move.
India has been in a state of financial panic in the past one month after Modi, in a surprise announcement to his nation on Oct 8 said the Rs.500 and Rs.1000 bank notes will be withdrawn from the country’s financial system from Oct 9 midnight, delivering a severe blow to money launderers and causing pain amongst millions of citizens holding cash savings.
Indians rely heavily on cash for daily transactions and those living in rural areas or who do not have bank accounts have been hit particularly hard.
Modi said he had been “pained” by the hardships people were facing following the ban, but insisted the move would ultimately benefit poor Indians.
Modi’s sudden cash ban has been to target tax evaders with large stockpiles of illicit cash, as well as at currency counterfeiters
The Indian government has said that the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes can be exchanged for new ones or deposited in a bank account until 30 December, but long queues and a lack of cash has hampered that process.
Despite Modi’s pledge that the new Rs.500 and Rs.2000 notes would be distributed to banks and ATMs as soon as possible, public frustration is growing amid continuing delays in dispensing replacement notes at banks and ATMs.
The delays have left ordinary Indians struggling to purchase essential goods and live a normal daily life.