As the united opposition seeking to corner government over the demonetisation issue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asserted that the government has launched a "crusade" against corruption and black money by scrapping high-denomination notes and sought cooperation from all political parties for the move.
The Prime Minister made the plea during an all-party meeting today, a day ahead of Parliament’s winter session.
However, his rivals called the demonetisation decision ill-prepared and hasty, causing "economic chaos".
Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged the decision to invalidate Rs 1000/500 currency notes was leaked in advance to some people, including BJP leaders, and called it probably the "biggest scam". He, however, added that his party is not for its rollback.
In his concluding remarks at the all-party meeting on the eve of the Winter Session, PM Modi spoke in support of simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assemblies polls and that there should be state-funding of elections as he asked parties to debate the issue.
The government is willing to discuss all issues and answer the questions raised by the opposition, Modi said, hoping for a fruitful session as he recalled the passage of the GST Bill in the last session with the cooperation of all parties.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar briefed the reporters about Modi's remarks.
Speaking about simultaneous polls, he said, "A crucial problem is how to make political funding transparent. How to implement state funding of elections. Let all political parties debate it and come to a conclusion. Let's remove the question mark which exists against those in public life.
"Polls happen separately. Let there be one election, simultaneous elections," he said, seeking a consensus on the issue.
"We have launched a crusade against corruption, black money and fake currency, which is also behind cross-border terrorism. All parties should come together on this issue of national interest," the PM said.
However, an unrelenting opposition decided to step up its fight against the government during the session. Presenting a united face, arch rivals TMC and Left parties and SP and BSP, got together at a meeting convened by the main opposition Congress to formulate a joint strategy.
There were some reservations in the opposition over TMC's proposal for a march to Rashtrapati Bhawan tomorrow to petition the President against demonetisation.
The majority of the parties did not want to exhaust the option of going to the President on the very first day of the session and instead wanted to keep it for a later stage.
An unfazed TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, however, asserted that she would go ahead with around 40 of her MPs to the President.
Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged the decision to invalidate Rs 1000/500 currency notes was leaked in advance to some people, including BJP leaders, and called it probably the "biggest scam".
He, however, added that his party is not for a rollback of the drive.
Azad told reporters that opposition parties, including TMC, SP, BSP, JD(U), RJD and others, are "united" and will remain so.
Any government's move to break the unity will not succeed, he said.
"We are all against black money. The government has completely failed in bringing back black money parked overseas as BJP had promised before the Lok Sabha polls.
Demonetisation move was ill-prepared and very hasty, causing economic chaos. People from Kashmir to Kanyakumari are suffering," he said, adding that some have died while standing in queues outside banks.
Alleging that the decision was "leaked" in advance to select people, he said it is a big scam, probably biggest in India.
Parliament will have to think what kind of enquiry is required, he said.
He also wondered if the move was an economic "surgical strike" to kill the opposition ahead of state assembly polls and to benefit BJP.
Though parties like TMC and AAP have sought rollback of the decision to declare Rs 1000/500 notes invalid, Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress' leader in the Lok Sabha, insisted that their party is not for it.
Azad insisted that there is no division in opposition ranks and TMC will be "part and parcel" of its joint strategy. JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said opposition parties were "disturbed and angry" the government had caused massive "inconvenience" to the common man with its unplanned action.
"I proposed that opposition parties in Parliament make demand for a JPC probe into the matter. All opposition parties in one voice were in agreement that this unplanned and immature action of the government should be exposed...," he said in a statement.
After a long time all opposition parties have come together and it would be in the interest of the country to launch protests at various places either together or separately to disseminate information about the Centre's failures, he said.
During the meeting, BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab referred to massive participation of students in board exams in Kashmir, a development welcomed by leaders of various parties with thumping of table.
(With PTI inputs)