New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS) The Congress on Tuesday kicked up a major storm in the Rajya Sabha, complaining about the RBI printing two types of Rs 500 currency notes and alleging that demonetisation was the biggest scam of the century. This led to frayed tempers and repeated adjournments of the house, without any business being conducted.
The issue created such an uproar, during which the two sides traded heated exchanges, that the house was adjourned six times before the final adjournment for the day.
Trouble began from the word go soon after the house met for the day when Congress member Kapil Sibal raked up the issue, claiming that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was printing two types of Rs 500 currency notes.
“The RBI prints two types of currency notes. These are of different size and different design… How is it possible?” he said, displaying images of two Rs 500 denomination notes pasted on a placard.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged that the demonetisation was the “biggest scam of this century”.
Other opposition leaders, including Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien, Janata Dal-United’s Sharad Yadav and Samajwadi Party’s Naresh Agrawal, also sided with the Congress.
BJP ministers protested against raising the issue, citing technical grounds.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is also Leader of the House, accused the opposition of raising “frivolous” issues day after day.
“There is no such provision that you can flash any paper any time and say this is Point of Order. There are rules under which you give notice. You can’t raise issues with regard to the currency and make such irresponsible statements. You have been raisng frivolous issues everyday during the Zero Hour,” Jaitley said.
As the opposition members continued their protest and the treasury benches members shouted back, the Chair adjourned the house for 10 minutes.
As the house met at 2 p.m. after the lunch break, Sibal again raised the issue of two different sizes and designs of Rs 500 notes and his party members came near the Chairman’s podium, raising slogans against the government.
Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien subsequently adjourned the house till 2.30 p.m.
But as soon as the house reconvened, slogan-shouting Congress members again trooped towards the podium. Some of the BJP members too came into the aisle and shouted slogans. Amid the pandemonium, Kurien adjourned the house for the day.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said if the members wanted a discussion, they could have given a notice. “You will get the answer,” he said.
Outside Parliament, Congress said variations in the sizes, designs and features in same series of new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 currency notes “jeopardize the credibility of the currencies” and confuse citizens about their authenticity.
The party also demanded a reply from Prime Minister Narendra Modi as to why there were variations in features and sizes in the same series of notes.
Indicating “criminal negligence and criminal culpability” on the part of the government, Sibal said Modi’s objectives behind demonetisation were yet to be achieved.
“We have been trying to figure out the real motive behind the sudden and secret move of the government to demonetise the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes,” Sibal told the media here.
“The objectives mentioned by the Prime Minister have clearly not been achieved,” he asserted.
“Different sizes of (same) currency notes jeopardize the credibility of India’s currency and has huge global ramifications. Citizens will be confused about their authenticity.”
Sibal mentioned that the standard size of the new currency notes as indicated on the official website of the Reserve Bank of India was 66 mm X 150 mm for Rs 500 and 66 mm X 156 mm for Rs 2,000 notes.
“Where were notes of significantly different sizes printed? Nowhere in the world are currency notes of whatever denomination of different sizes,” Sibal maintained.
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