Regional satraps Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi during two separate press conferences on 10 November for his decision to declare Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes as illegal tender, calling it a financial emergency.
Mulayam, the Samajwadi Party president, asked the Centre to defer the decision in the interests of the common man.
A discontent Mayawati
The Bahujan Samaj Party leader was the first to viciously accuse Modi. She said that the prime minister had taken the decision after stocking up enough money abroad for his party for the next 100 years.
"The Bharatiya Janata Party government has used its two-and-a-half year rule to benefit the rich and big industrialists to safely park their unaccounted wealth before demonetising high denomination notes," Mayawati said. She the hastily added: "I am not saying this, people are talking about it."
The BSP chief added that the Centre decided to move after cushioning the big houses from the blow.
Mayawati further accused the BJP of having entered into an agreement with petrol pump owners, who made a killing on 8 November night by not returning change to those giving Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes, for a cut.
Mayawati said that the decision was neither in national nor public interest. "The decision has affected the daily lives of the common man, patients farmers and daily wage earners that they can't even think of celebrating the festival of honesty which the Prime Minister wanted them to," the BSP chief said.
"The situation on the night of 8 November was as if the people were hit by an earthquake. Panicked people were out on the roads, worried about their future," she said. She accused Modi of drawing sadistic pleasure out of people's plight.
Mulayam was more worried about the impact the decision would have on the real estate business and consequently on thousands of daily wagers who survive on construction activity.
Speaking at a hurriedly called press conference, the SP president said that the government should have consulted opposition leaders before its implementation. "We will oppose the decision and mobilise public opinion against it," Mulayam said.
Incidentally, Mulayam's younger son is said to be in real estate business while his party sent a Lucknow-based real estate magnate to Rajya Sabha a few months back.
Both the former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh, who have faced cases of disproportionate assets, said that Modi had failed to bring back black money stashed abroad, keep his election promises and create employment for the jobless. There is no tranquility along the borders and soldiers are dying almost daily, Mayawati said.
This decision was more to divert people's attention from important issues than a serious effort to tackle the problem of black money, she said.
In their respective opinions, the two leaders felt that the demonetisation decision would prove costly for the BJP in the coming elections in UP.
Almost the entire day yesterday Mayawati was busy meeting party men, whose vehicles were allowed inside the party office for the first time. A vernacular daily in Lucknow carried photographs of boots of the vehicles being stacked with suitcases.
Unlike Mayawati, Mulayam's press conference was brief. Despite being aware that the decision had already been implemented he urged the Centre to defer it. Compared to Mayawati, the Samajwadi Party chief was less bellicose towards Modi.
While Mayawati went to the extent of questioning Modi's OBC status, Mulayam confined himself to real estate, farmers and the poor. Although he said his party would protest against the decision, he did not elaborate on the subject.
Mayawati, on the other hand, alleged that Modi belonged to an upper caste but managed the OBC status while he was chief minister of Gujarat.
While addressing the press conference, the SP chief was persistently asked about the possibility of the SP allying with any party before the upcoming polls in UP.
Mulayam categorically rejected the idea. "There will be no alliance. If anyone is ready for merger he is welcome," he said.
On 9 November, Sharad Yadav and Ajit Singh had met Mulayam at his residence in Delhi to discuss the possibility of forming an alliance.
Prashant Kishor, the poll strategist for the Congress, also recently held meetings with the SP supremo and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav.
The presence of JD-U and RLD leaders, besides RJD's Lalu Yadav, at the recent silver jubilee function of the Samajwadi Party had given rise to speculation about a possible grand alliance on the lines of one formed in Bihar.
With his reply today, Mulayam has scotched any prospects of a pre-poll alliance.
Edited by Aleesha Matharu