Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad today led the Opposition’s charge against the government over issues like demonetisation and Kashmir handling saying the NDA has been a "failure" on all fronts.
A day after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Budget and defended the decision on demonetisation in his speech, the Opposition today said the government has been a "failure" on all fronts particularly in tackling black money, terrorism and fake currency, even as the ruling side contended that "metamorphosis of India is happening now".
Azad, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said that the government has imposed an "undeclared emergency" in the country and any criticism is being suppressed.
Participating in a debate on Motion of Thanks to the President's address, Azad said "2016 has been a year of depression, recession, regression and suppression."
Members of other opposition parties like Samajwadi Party and Trinamool Congress also attacked the government over demonetisation, state of the economy and other aspects of governance.
From the ruling side, Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad said during the previous Congress rule, the country had seen widespread corruption and the economy had been left in a dire condition.
Hitting out at the government, Azad focussed his hour-long speech mainly on demonetisation, handling of Kashmir affairs and surgical strikes.
"...We all talk about demonetisation or notebandi. ...The President has appreciated demonetisation. ...But the government has been a failure on all fronts -- black money, terrorism and fake currency," the Congress leader said.
Azad talked about the problems people faced after demonetisation was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8 last year and said the government does not even have "remorse" for coming out with such a policy which affected all.
Maintaining that demonetistion had no impact on black money or fake currency, he said it was an "ill conceived" move as 135 circulars were issued to implement a single policy.
"This may find a place in the Guiness Book of World Records."
"The government failed to perform. Instead of moving ahead on path of progress, the country is moving backwards," Azad said.
He said demonetisation has impacted farmers and "as per the National Crime Bureau Records, there is a 42 per cent increase in farmers' suicides.
"Is this welfare of farmers? Post-demonetisaton, the situation has worsened. Farmers did not have money to buy seeds, fertiliser and other inputs," the Congress leader said.
Farmers are not getting right price for their produce. "I don't think the farmers situation will improve even in the next 10 years," he said.
Referring to the government's contention that demonetisation would hit terrorism, Azad said soon after the announcement about scrapping old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 was made, a militant killed in Kashmir was found possessing a Rs 2000 note.
About the government's assertion that demonetisation was to target black money, the Leader of Opposition referred to a number of instances where crores of rupees in new currency were seized across the country.
"While a common man could hardly get Rs 2500 through the front door of a bank, crores of rupees were pilfered through the back doors of banks," he said.
"The government must share some discredit for this. We want to how this money was generated. This is only tip of the iceberg. A few of them are caught. We don't know how many of them are involved," he said.
On fake currencies, the Congress leader said these are still available in the market.
He also criticised the government over printing of some new notes without the picture of Mahatma Gandhi and some even printed only on one side.
For the first time, 120 people died because of the government policy and even labourers faced job loss, he said, adding that situation in Surat is so bad that BJP may not get funding voluntarily.
Contending that the government cannot take criticism, Azad said his party was termed anti-national for asking details about surgical strikes as well as demonetisation.
"We support surgical strikes. If it goes for more surgical strikes, we will support. However, when we asked for the number of people killed, we became anti-national. ...If we start raising voices, we become anti-national. The choice we have now is to be silent," he said.
Azad also alleged that information about demonetisation move had been leaked to BJP leaders before the announcement.
He said a BJP leader had knowledge about Rs 2,000 note two days before the Prime Minister announced demonetisation.
Some BJP members also purchased huge tracts of land in cash just before the old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes were scrapped, the Leader of Opposition said.
"What is the reason that they were informed about it? ...They were in the know. Lakhs and crores of rupees were deposited in the banks," he said.
"At present, we are having undeclared emergency. Some day all facts will come out," Azad said.
On Kashmir affairs, he said the situation has worsened and the government has failed to curb infiltration. Despite doubling security forces, there is no improvement in the situation in J&K.
Noting that the government has been expressing concern over the situation in the valley, Azad said, "Mere expressing concern is not the job of the government. It should come out with concrete solutions."
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had talked about 'Jamhooriat, Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat' (democracy, humanity and Kashmiriyat) and even 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' but nothing in this direction has happened in Kashmir.
"What has happened to these slogans during last two and a half years? Jamhooriat and Insaniyat have been murdered," he said and referred to the deaths and injuries caused to thousands of people in Kashmir during unrest last summer.
He also referred to the death of soldiers due to recent avalanches in Kashmir and suggested the government to shift the location of posting to safer place during winters.
(With PTI inputs)