December 16, 2016
Full Text of the Memorandum submitted to the President of India
MPs belonging to several Opposition parties today met the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee and apprised him of how they were not allowed to speak in the House.
The delegation that came together to oppose the Government’s demonetisation move included MPs from Congress, Trinamool Congress, CPI, CPI-M, JDUand RJD.
While the Opposition initially demanded a discussion under an adjournment motion entailing voting, the ruling side was adamant on a debate under Rule 193. However, an understanding was reached and it was decided that a discussion will be held without any Rule. But, the treasury benches disrupted the Parliament in the last week, for which no discussion could take place.
After the meeting with the President, Leader of the Party in Lok Sabha, Sudip Bandopadhyay said, ” The poorest of the poor in the country are suffering. The Government is avoiding a discussion in Parliament,, he said adding that they have not yet categorically explained why the discussion could not take place.”
“We stand by the common people of the country. Today’s delegation is a very powerful delegation to President, Sudip Bandopadhyay added. We expect the government to honour our demands, he maintained.
The MPs submitted a memorandum to the Hon. President in which they detailed how the ruling party did not allow the Opposition to speak in Parliament.
FULL TEXT OF THE MEMORANDUM TO PRESIDENT
We would like to bring to your attention the process by which all voices of the Opposition have been continuously stifled throughout this Parliamentary Session. As you are aware, the announcement by the Government on 8th November, 2016 regarding the Demonetization of 500 and 1000 Rupee notes has had a devastating and crippling effect on the common people across the country. It was our expectation that after such a disastrous decision by the Prime Minister himself, he, as the architect of this announcement, would personally make a Suo Moto statement on the first day of the Parliament regarding this issue, thereby informing all law makers of the rationale behind this announcement, the process of the roll out and the efficacy by which the pain of the common people at large would be alleviated. We were shocked when no such statement was forthcoming from the Prime Minister, as is the normal convention in Parliamentary procedure.
The Parliament was convened on 16 November 2016. The combined Opposition moved an adjournment motion under Rule 56. We were taken aback when the Government did not agree to discuss the matter under Rule 56 in Lok Sabha and thereby created an impasse. This impasse continued over ten days. The combined Opposition was eager to put forward their views on the Floor of the Lok Sabha throughout this period. Realizing that the Government was not at all interested to resolve this deadlock, the combined Opposition, desirous of an urgent discussion on this issue, suggested a solution by proposing a discussion under Rule 184. This too, was continuously blocked and not accepted by the Government.
Then as a last resort, we suggested a discussion in Lok Sabha setting aside all the Rules. Even though there had been multiple suggestions by us indicating our fervent desire to initiate the debate, not only was the Government adamant on preventing a discussion, but they did not even approach Opposition Benches to facilitate a discussion to resolve the logjam that the House was confronted with.
The opposition parties considered it their duty to raise a discussion on the adverse fallout of Demonetization and the suffering inflicted on millions of citizens who have been denied access to their own money by banks. The Opposition initiated the discussion on 16 November 2016 in Rajya Sabha and senior leaders of major opposition parties participated in the debate. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister chose not to come to the Rajya Sabha even though the Lok Sabha was adjourned and the Prime Minister was present in the precincts of Parliament. The Opposition parties have been urging upon the Government for the Prime Minister to participate in the debate and answer any queries the Opposition may have regarding the decision, the process and the provisions made for printing of new currency to replace the old, illegal tender. The refusal of the Government and the insistence that the Prime Minister will only ‘intervene’ in the debate, but not respond to questions, led to the stalemate.
It is unfortunate and unprecedented that the Government itself has been deliberately disrupting and forcing adjournments of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. This is being done at the behest of senior Ministers. Moreover, the Prime Minister has misled the nation by blaming the Opposition.
We are extremely pained by this trampling of our democratic rights and the suppression of our right to present our views and make our voices heard in Parliament. We are deeply concerned that the Parliamentary democratic system itself is under severe threat.
There is a deep crisis in the country, millions are affected. Small and medium enterprises have been hit hard. Traders are suffering losses in business. Crores of workers in the unorganized sector, e-commerce, leather, jute, textiles, glass, beedi, gems and jewellery sectors, farmers, shopkeepers and daily wage earners under government schemes like MNREGA have either lost jobs or have been seriously affected due to cash crunch. They are facing severe wage-earning problems, leading to starvation in several cases, even leading to deaths. More than 97 people have lost their lives across States while queuing up outside banks and ATMs. Students, housewives and the young generation are bearing the brunt of an ill-conceived policy.
The Demonetization decision has brought about a disastrous situation in the nation.
We beseech you, as the protector of the Constitution, to kindly intervene to save the people from economic disaster.