New Delhi: Several opposition parties on Tuesday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the demonetisation woes of the common man, asking him to own responsibility for the chaos and demanding his resignation if the cash crunch persisted even after the 50-day deadline.
While Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi held Modi responsible for the continuing hardships of the common people, Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said he will have to resign if the cash crunch woes continued even after the December 30 deadline he himself set.
Banerjee said the demonetisation decision was "illegal and unconstitutional" and that the Indian economy had been set 20 years back in these nearly 50 days. Modi will have to resign if the chaos continues beyond December 30, she said.
Both leaders addressed a joint press conference at the Constitution Club here, along with leaders of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Janata Dal-Secular, Indian Union Muslim League and All India United Democratic Front.
Several important partners in the anti-demonetisation campaign -- Janata Dal-United, the Left parties, Nationalist Congress Party, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party -- were, however, conspicuous by their absence.
Calling the November 8 note ban the "biggest scam after Independence", Banerjee asked if Modi will resign at the end of 50 days if the cash situation did not improve.
"Modi ji, you asked for 50 days; people were losing their livlihood, dying due to starvation but yet they gave you that time. Now 47 days are over and only three days are left," the Chief Minister said.
"We will wait for the next three days. But Modi ji, if things remain unsolved, will you take responsibility and resign as the Prime Minister?" she asked.
Rahul Gandhi said Modi should accept responsibility since the latter's assurance of normalcy after 50 days seems to be failing and people are still facing hardships due to cash crunch.
"December 30 is near, but the situation is still the same. The Prime Minister needs to answer who is responsible for the people's hardships... It is the Prime Minister who is responsible," Gandhi said.
The Congress leader said demonitasation had failed to reduce corruption and arrest black money laundering, and was instead an attack on the country's poor.
"Demonetisation has had no impact on corruption and black money. A new black market has emerged -- to convert black money into white," Gandhi said.
Countering the government's stance that demonetisation will curb terror funding, Gandhi said 2,000-rupee notes were found in possession of terrorists killed days after the November 8 scrapping of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
He asked Modi to tell the nation what he dubbed was the "real motive" behind the move. The West Bengal Chief Minister mocked the cashless economy argument of the Centre.
"While an advanced economy like the United States has around 40 per cent cash transactions, he (Modi) talks about cashless economy. In the name of cashless economy, the Modi government has gone baseless; it has gone faceless," she quipped.
Banerjee claimed a "hidden agenda" behind the demonetisation.
"If the government is weak, the country becomes weak. Demonetisation has made the whole country unstable. This government must go; otherwise, the people will throw it out," added the TMC leader.
The DMK and the RJD dubbed the demonetisation move "ill-conceived and anti-people".
DMK leader Tiruchi Siva said the country is facing a financial crisis due to note ban.
He said only six per cent of the black money was in hard cash and for this six per cent, the Prime Minister has put then entire people across the country in trouble.
"No results have come so far. It has been an ill-conceived and poorly implemented move," Siva said.
"There is no assurance that no black money will be generated in future. There is no actual figure as to how much black money was deposited or recovered," Siva added.
Jai Prakash Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal said his party had been opposing the demonetisation move since the very beginning and party President and former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad planned to hold district-level protests in Bihar.
"Cashless is baseless. Note ban is anti-poor and anti-people," Yadav said.
Meanwhile, speaking in Dehradun in Uttarakhand on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly defended demonetisation and said the move is aimed at weeding out corruption from the country.
He said the move had broken the backs of terrorism, drug and fake currency smuggling as well as human trafficking.