Opposition leaders today observed a 'Black Day' in Parliament premises to mark one month of the announcement of demonetisation, with Rahul Gandhi launching a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying his "foolish decision" has "devastated" the country.
Leading the protest, Gandhi accused Modi of shying away from having a discussion on the issue in Parliament, but stressed that opposition parties will "not let him run away" from both Houses, where "everything will become clear" once the Prime Minister takes part in debate.
Speaking to reporters in Parliament premises, he said the Prime Minister is "having nice time" and has over the past one month "changed his narrative" on the issue while people are reeling under hardships.
Besides Congress, leaders of all opposition parties including TMC, CPI(M), CPI, JD(U), Samajwadi Party joined the protest wearing black band on their arms.
"The Prime Minister took this so-called bold decision. The bold decision can also be a foolish decision. And this was a foolish decision, it has devastated the country. More than 100 people have died. Farmers, fishermen, daily wage earners have been hit hard.
"He (the Prime Minister) is laughing. He is having a nice time, while the people of the country are suffering," Gandhi said.
"So, he is switching from one issue to another. And we are going to catch him inside the House. He is not going to be able to run inside the House," he said.
Referring to the Prime Minister's cashless economy talk, Gandhi said, "There is this concept of PayTM. Pay to Modi, that's the idea behind cashless economy. That's few people should get maximum benefit from cash transactions."
Gandhi once again demanded a debate in Lok Sabha on demonetisation under a rule which entails voting and claimed some BJP MPs too will support the opposition's demand.
"We know people in BJP will vote in our favour if such debate is allowed. If he (Modi) speaks inside...Doodh ka doodh aur pani ka pani ho jayega (everything will become clear)," he said.
On his "Pay to Modi" jibe, Gandhi said he will explain on his allegation inside Lok Sabha if allowed to speak.
sked about the logjam in Parliament, Gandhi said,
"Responsibility of running the House is that of the government and the Speaker, not Opposition. We want to have discussion. We want voting but the government does not. Because they knew that even BJP people will also vote in our favour."
He also accused BJP and Modi of leaking information prior to the demonetisation announcement.
"Those who are supposed to know they knew about the decision. BJP and Modiji told them about the move. So who suffered the loss? he asked.
"BJP unit in Bengal deposited crores of rupees in banks. Party purchased land in Bihar. Karnataka BJP leader spent Rs 500 cr on his daughter's marriage," he added.
Highlighting the demonetisation effect, he said, "Lay offs are happening. Today I was told that L&T had laid off almost a lakh people. Farmers are dying. More than 100 people have died during this period and all this while Prime Minister seems to be having lot of fun. He is having a nice time."
TMC leader Sudeep Bandopadhaya said, "We are observing Black Day as the demonetisation completed one month today to pay tributes to those who died during this period. About 105 people have died as a result of demonetisation. We will continue our fight against the move."
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said, "We are observing Black Day because people are still facing problems. Earlier, PM asked for 5 days, then 5 weeks and now 50 days. This is not right as not even 50 per cent of the situation has got better in one month.
"Our growth rate has gone down and problems of people have increased. He should have thought about the situation before implementing the it... Don’t know how much impact LK Advani’s statement had on govt, but we've been trying to carry on with the debate."
Exasperated at the repeated disruption of Parliamentary proceedings over demonetisation, BJP elder L K Advani yesterday blamed both the ruling and opposition benches for the deadlock, and even pulled up the Speaker and Parliamentary Affairs Minister for "not running the House".