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55 deaths due to demonetisation: Congress demands PM apologise to families

Akash Bisht | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:39 IST

The Congress, on 2 December, asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to apologise to the families of 55 people who have died because of the demonetisation scheme. The principal Opposition party also demanded compensation for these families, and an inquiry into how these individuals died.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi should apologise to the families of people who died while standing in long queues. He should not only apologise to the family members of the 55 individuals who died, but also to 125 crore people of India, who have been forced to stand in long queues," the party's chief spokesperson, Randeep Singh Surjewala, said.

The Congress also accused the Prime Minister of running away from facing Parliament. "Why is the PM scared? Why is he not showing the courage to face Parliament? How will other institutions work if the PM turns his back on the highest temple of democracy?" Surjewala said.

The Opposition has been vociferously demanding Modi's presence in Parliament to get a response from him over the currency ban. However, the BJP rejected it outright, saying the Prime Minister will come 'when he has to'.

Stormy scenes in both houses of Parliament

Earlier on Friday, a united Opposition forced multiple adjournments in both houses of Parliament. As a result, the two houses were adjourned till Monday.

In the Lok Sabha, the relentless Opposition demanded an adjournment motion to discuss the demonetisation issue, to which the government didn't agree.

The Rajya Sabha witnessed heated exchanges between the treasury benches and the Opposition over Ghulam Nabi Azad's remarks comparing the death of Indian soldiers in the Uri terror attack with those related to demonetisation.

BJP leaders, led by Parliamentary Affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, sought an apology from the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, whose comments have been expunged from the proceedings.

Soon after the Rajya Sabha convened in the morning, Naqvi said: "The statement made by Ghulam Nabi Azad that demonetisation has killed more people than the Uri terror attack is condemnable. He must apologise to the nation."

However, a defiant Congress backed Azad, and accused the BJP of communalising the matter. "He is not just the Leader of the Opposition, but has been the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. There have been 26 bids on his life by terrorists. He's a man who has always stood for the nation. Do we have such a situation now that the BJP will decide who is a nationalist and who is not?" asked Anand Sharma, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

'Is the PM lying or is Jaitley'?

The Congress also accused the government of lying about the deadlines by which banks and ATMs would start functioning.

"It's been nine days since the government made the announcement. Since then, it has changed the rules 18 times. The right hand of the government does not know what the left is doing," said Surjewala.

He went on to add that to replace all the Rs 1000 notes with the Rs 2000 notes will take three and a half months, while to replace the Rs 500 notes with new ones, the government will need eight months.

"What will happen to the country by then, Modiji? We need answers. According to the Finance Minister, only 2,250 ATMs have been recalibrated in 10 days. At this speed, it will take the government 110 days to fix two lakh ATMs, while the PM is saying everything would be fine in 50 days. The question is, who is lying? The Prime Minister or the Finance Minister?" asked Surjewala.

The Congress also accused the Prime Minister of using the demonetisation scheme to build his own image, and said: "We have a Prime Minister who takes a decision first, thinks about it later, and never accepts it. When he is caught, he calls those asking questions 'anti-national'."

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

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First published: 18 November 2016, 11:41 IST