Oppn slams govt for continuing restrictions on withdrawals

New Delhi: Opposition parties including Congress and TMC on Wednesday joined ranks to slam the government for continuing restrictions on cash withdrawal from banks even after 90 days of demonetisation, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that hardships will last only 50 days.

TMC, a bitter critic of the decision to junk old 500 and 1000 rupee notes, gave a notice under rule 267 for suspension of business of Rajya Sabha to discuss continuing restrictions, that found support from Congress and other opposition parties.

Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) said, on Wednesday, marked completion of 90 days since demonetisation was announced on November 8, 2016.

Modi, he said, had asked for 50 days to restore normalcy and had offered to undergo any punishment publicly if any shortcoming or hardships are found after December 30.

“We don’t want Prime Minister to stand at any ‘chowk’ (a crossing) but cash withdrawal restrictions continue even after 90 days,” he said demanding that the government lift all restrictions so that people can use their money at their will.

Currently, cash withdrawal is limited to Rs 24,000 a week from saving bank accounts.

Disallowing the notice, Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien said the issue has already been discussed for 12 hours.

Roy contested Kurien’s statement saying the discussion happened on the Motion of Thanks to President’s Address and demonetisation was not the subject matter.

The Deputy Chairman conceded that technically the motion did not mention this particular subject but the issue was touched upon by both sides during the discussion. “Therefore I am not allowing (the notice). I have rejected the notice,” he said.

At this point, Congress and other opposition members joined in to demand that they too should be allowed to speak on the issue. But Kurien disallowed it, leading to protests by the members.

“Because the motion is rejected, I cannot allow anybody to speak,” he said as he turned down Roy’s plea.

Kurien said the Chair can call other members to speak on a 267 motion if it has any doubt about admitting it. “I have no doubt (on this motion) and so I am not allowing anybody to speak including the minister,” he said.

Members continued to protest for a brief while but resumed their places as the House took up listed business.