India’s oppn cries foul, says rights ‘tram­pled’

Govt re­fuses de­bate on cur­rency ban

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

NEW DELHI: India’s

par­lia­ment ended its lat­est ses­sion yesterday with barely any de­bate on a cur­rency ban that has caused na­tion­wide chaos, lead­ing op­po­si­tion par­ties to claim their demo­cratic rights had been “tram­pled”. Rul­ing and op­po­si­tion politi­cians have traded bit­ter ac­cu­sa­tions of re­spon­si­bil­ity for the fail­ure of par­lia­ment to func­tion for al­most all of the win­ter ses­sion.

It opened on Novem­ber 16, a week af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi an­nounced a shock de­ci­sion to with­draw all high-value notes from cir­cu­la­tion-a move aimed at tack­ling cor­rup­tion that is widely ex­pected to hit eco­nomic growth. In a mem­o­ran­dum to the pres­i­dent, the Congress and sev­eral other op­po­si­tion par­ties said they were “ex­tremely pained by this tram­pling of our demo­cratic rights” and warned the cur­rency move could bring “eco­nomic disas­ter”.

Modi, who has made a se­ries of pub­lic speeches jus­ti­fy­ing his cur­rency ban, has mean­while ac­cused the op­po­si­tion of pre­vented him from speak­ing in par­lia­ment. “I am not be­ing al­lowed to speak in Lok Sabha (lower par­lia­ment house) so I am speak­ing in the Jan Sabha (peo­ple’s gath­er­ing),” he tweeted ear­lier this month. India’s two houses of par­lia­ment are no­to­ri­ously rowdy and dis­rup­tions are rou­tine, mostly due to loud protests that make it im­pos­si­ble for de­bates to pro­ceed.

But the lat­est ses­sion has been par­tic­u­larly un­pro­duc­tive. This week, India’s Pres­i­dent Pranab Mukher­jee made a rare in­ter­ven­tion, urg­ing politi­cians to use the streets rather than par­lia­ment for protest. In 2015, more than 20,000 In­di­ans, in­clud­ing prom­i­nent busi­ness lead­ers, signed an on­line pe­ti­tion urg­ing law­mak­ers to end weeks of rowdy protests that had par­a­lyzed par­lia­ment. Par­lia­ment had wit­nessed dis­rup­tions through the month-long win­ter ses­sion as the gov­ern­ment con­tin­ued to refuse de­bate on de­mon­e­ti­za­tion is­sue.

Modi slams op­po­si­tion

Most of the ac­tion, how­ever, spilled out­side Par­lia­ment yesterday. Modi slammed the Congress and left par­ties for op­pos­ing de­mon­e­ti­za­tion and said that “for Congress, the party is above the na­tion”. The op­po­si­tion counter at­tacked by sub­mit­ting a mem­o­ran­dum to the PM, de­mand­ing loan waivers for debt-rid­den farm­ers. It also blamed the gov­ern­ment for flout­ing demo­cratic val­ues and block­ing the de­bate on note ban in Par­lia­ment. The cen­tre’s claim that note ban has hit black money hold­ers in the coun­try is widely con­tested by the op­po­si­tion, who say the gov­ern­ment’s move to scrap Rs 500/1000 notes has hit poor the hard­est. Congress leader Mal­likar­jun Kharge said the par­ties wanted a de­bate in Par­lia­ment on de­mon­e­ti­za­tion but the gov­ern­ment flouted all demo­cratic val­ues and blocked it. —Agen­cies

NEW DELHI: Congress party Vice-Pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi (cen­ter) leaves af­ter meet­ing In­dian Pres­i­dent Pranab Mukher­jee at the Pres­i­den­tial Palace in New Delhi yesterday. India’s Vice-Pres­i­dent M Hamid An­sari yesterday slammed law­mak­ers on the last day of par­lia­ment’s stormy win­ter ses­sion yesterday, which has been marred by daily dis­rup­tions and ac­ri­mo­nious slo­ga­neer­ing be­tween gov­ern­ment and op­po­si­tion lead­ers. —AFP

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