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Published On: Thu, Dec 15th, 2016

After Rahul’s ‘Expose PM’ Claim, Parliament Meets – And Chaos

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24ls1NEW DELHI :  To protest against the government’s decision to yank 500-and 1,000-rupee notes, the leaders of 15 different opposition parties will march tomorrow from parliament to the presidential palace of Rashtrapati Bhawan to meet with President Pranab Mukherjee and update him on what they describe as the unrelenting hardship caused to people by the sudden demonetisation move.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met last evening with ministers to review the impact of the sudden demonetisation drive; he reportedly also asked them for an update on how they are promoting digital transactions to steer India away from such a cash-intensive economy.
The 15 parties who are seeking time with President Mukherjee tomorrow include the Congress, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and the Left. PM Modi also met with his ministers this morning, reportedly to review strategy for parliament proceedings, which have been confined this morning, like every other day, to angry disruptions.

Tomorrow is the final day of the winter session of parliament, which has seen virtually no business transacted because of the standoff between the government and the opposition over the notes ban.

Both sides have spent virtually the entire session arguing about how a debate on demonetisation should be conducted. The government refused to accept a debate followed by a vote; the opposition insisted that PM Modi must explain his reform, intended at uncovering black money and punishing its owners.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi dramatically declared yesterday that the government is obstructing a debate because he has information on “the personal corruption” of PM Modi, a claim the ruling BJP derided as “the year’s biggest joke.”

Mr Gandhi was flanked by leaders from 14 other parties as he made his announcement; the 46-year-old says the other parties are aware of the damaging evidence he has against the PM.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal posed the question that many have: why not just reveal the evidence rather than waiting for an opportunity in parliament?

Since the high-denomination notes were cancelled on November 8, nearly $185 billion has been deposited in bank accounts – that’s about 80% of the notes that were declared invalid.  Because the deadline to turn in old notes is December 30, analysts predict that virtually all the cancelled notes will be returned.

What that suggests is that the move may have failed in forcing the destruction or abandonment of vast amounts of black money because people with undeclared cash would be wary of attracting the scrutiny of tax authorities.

The RBI has printed some 1.7 billion new 500- and 2,000-rupee notes. That is a fraction of the 24 billion individual notes that were withdrawn.  Banks continue to struggle with a shortage of cash and long lines of desperate customers.

Searches by tax officials have been uncovering huge amounts of the new currency in states like Karnataka. The RBI on Tuesday asked banks to keep all CCTV footage from November 8, in a  bid to scrutinise depositors. Some bank officials including one from the RBI have been arrested for allegedly laundering old and invalid notes

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