New Delhi: With no end in sight to the tussle between the government and opposition over the partial demonetisation of high-value currency notes, the Congress party on Tuesday likened the drive to “waging a war" against the poor.

With just three working days left in the month-long winter session of Parliament, the opposition remains firm on a discussion on demonetisation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi giving the government’s point of view on the floor of the House.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said the government’s move had enabled further conversion of black money to white while robbing the poor of their hard-earned money.

“The prime minister has brought honest people on the streets while the rich and the corrupt are taking money through the back door of banks... Modiji wants the money of the poor to remain in the banks for the next six-eight months," Gandhi said in an address at a wholesale market in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh.

“He (Modi) says he will make the economy cashless. He has made it cashless indeed, with the poor having no cash," Gandhi added.

Also Read: Rahul Gandhi steps up attack on Narendra Modi over demonetisation move

The attack is significant as the Congress is playing a major role in the opposition to counter the centre’s claims on demonetisation.

Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P. Chidambaram weighed in on the attack saying recent seizures of Rs2,000 notes across the country point to the “biggest scam" arising out of the note ban. Describing the exercise as “thoughtless" and “absurd", he sought an SIT (special investigation team) probe.

“World over small transactions are done in cash, not by cards. To assume that India will go from 3% to 100% cashless in a matter of a few months is an outlandish expectation," he said, adding that the move has dented confidence in the Indian economy.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley hit back at the Congress saying the government was ready to debate the issue in Parliament.

“The Congress party was in power continuously for 10 years from 2004-14. There were two striking features of that regime. The first that it did not take a single step either against corruption or against black money. The second, as far as corruption scandals were concerned, it peaked during that period," Jaitley told reporters.

“I would urge my friends in the Congress party, and the entire opposition, we are ready to debate this issue in Parliament, rise above slogans and look at the positive advantages that these changes in system are going to bring to the economy as a whole," he added.

Jaitley said demonetisation could eventually lead to a reduction in tax rates. “The future taxation level would be much higher than what is currently being collected. This would also enable the government at some stage to make taxes more reasonable, which will apply to both direct and indirect taxes," he said.

The last three days of the winter session are crucial given the acrimony between the centre and opposition, as well as an expected last push by the government to clear pending reforms legislation. Opposition leaders claimed that the government had not made any efforts to reach out to them.

“It is the responsibility of the Speaker and the party in power to ensure that the House functions. Our demand from the beginning of the session has been that there should be a discussion on demonetisation initiated by the PM. That has not been done so far," said a senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

“Speeches are being made on all other platforms by members of the government but Parliament is being kept out of the loop. The government advanced the winter session to ensure that the bills related to goods and services tax are passed but they have made no attempts in that aspect as well," the leader added.

Meanwhile, the Congress on Tuesday issued a whip to its MPs to be present in the House for the next three days. The whip said “very important issues will be taken up’ and so attendance was mandatory for all party members".

PTI contributed to this story.

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