New Delhi: Seeking to pre-empt opposition protests on demonetization ahead of the winter session of parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said he is willing to hear them out on the issue and that there is no reason for confrontation.
During an all-party meeting called by the National Democratic Alliance, Modi said while the government was ready to discuss and debate all the issues raised by the opposition, there was a need for all political parties to support the anti-corruption measures taken by the government.
“PM says let a signal go from Parliament’s winter session that all parties can come on one page on issues of national interest. He urged all parties to cooperate inside as well as outside Parliament on issues of black money, corruption," parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar told reporters.
In his address at the all-party meeting, Modi also spoke in support of simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assembly polls and state-funding of elections, asking political parties to debate the issue.
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Unlike Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) who are demanding a roll back of the policy, the Congress has made it clear that its opposition is limited to the inconvenience being caused to the people by the move to demonetise ₹ 1,000 and ₹ 500 notes.
“We are not for roll back of demonetization but are against the economic chaos inflicted by this hasty, unprepared move," Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters after the meeting.
Earlier in the day, opposition parties led by the Congress met for a second consecutive day and decided to unanimously raise the issue in the winter session. However, there was a division between the parties as TMC is going ahead with its proposed march to Rashtrapati Bhavan to meet President Pranab Mukherjee over the issue. TMC is likely to be joined by AAP and the National Conference.
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At the opposition meeting, the Congress, Left, Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal (United) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham unanimously came out against it.
“There was unanimous decision by everybody that the march tomorrow is too early. As an opposition party, we must have a march in due course of time, but not on the very first day. On first day of Parliament, we must hold a discussion inside the House," Azad said.
The opposition leaders will meet again on Wednesday morning to finalize the strategy which will include “all parliamentary tools including a demand for constituting a joint parliamentary committee to go into the issue".
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The winter session begins on Wednesday and is expected to be a tumultuous one given opposition anger over demonetization. Among potentially explosive issues are water sharing controversies related to Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL), Mahanadi and Cauvery as well as the surgical strike in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), unrest in Jammu and Kashmir, One Rank One Pension (OROP) and India’s foreign policy stance on Pakistan.
PTI contributed to this story.