New Delhi: The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, which is virtually at war with the Narendra Modi government over the demonetisation issue, on Tuesday got a shot in the arm when BJP ally Shiv Sena decided to join its march to Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday to press for rollback of the currency spike decision.
Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah are also to participate in the march.
While Banerjee, the West Bengal Chief Minister, herself reached out to several prominent opposition party leaders, including Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the Congress, CPI-M and the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) refused to be part of the march.
“Tomorrow (Wednesday) I am meeting President Pranab Mukherjee on demonetisation issue. I have spoken to various political parties. If they want to join me, it is good. If not, then I will go alone with my MPs,” Banerjee told media persons in Kolkata before leaving for Delhi.
Besides a telephonic conversation with Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray on the fallout of demonetisation, Banerjee also called up Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal chief Naveen Patnaik and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav among others to join the march.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said the party will participate in the march.
“Mamata called up Uddhav and said they are going to meet the President. She asked if the Shiv Sena will join the march. We have decided to join the march on the basis of issues related to demonetisation,” Raut told media persons in Mumbai.
A constituent of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA at the Centre and in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena has virulently criticised the demonetisation move.
Gearing up to confront the Modi government in Parliament over the issue, the Communist Party of India-Marxist said it will not be a part of the march.
“There is no question of joining the march,” CPI-M politburo member Mohammad Salim told IANS.
Party General Secretary Sitaram Yechury on Monday said the Marxists will confront the Modi government in Parliament first and decide the future course of action based on the government’s response in the house.
Both the JD-U and the Congress extended support to Banerjee’s crusade but declined to participate in the march.
“We support the Bengal Chief Minister, she is well within her rights to meet the President. But we shall not seek an appointment with the President on the very first day itself,” senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said.
“We shall first discuss the issue inside the house, and then if need may arise we shall seek an appointment. The Trinamool can be a part of that,” he added.
“While we have very good relations with Mamata’s party, we don’t have total unison with the Trinamool. The JD-U will not join the protest march,” party Rajya Sabha member K.C. Tyagi told IANS.
“There can be a difference on going to the President’s place altogether but we will remain united in Parliament,” he added.
The Trinamool, however, appeared unperturbed on the opposition’s failure to unite on the proposed march.
“This fight is not for any party or individual interest. This is a fight against the financial calamity unleashed by this government,” Banerjee said upon her arrival in the national capital.
“We too are against black money. But 99 percent of the nation is being punished for the crimes committed by the one percent,” she said.
“It’s their prerogative, whether the Congress or CPI-M join or not, we have no issues on that.”
“But then,” Banerjee said, “what is the use of the doctor coming when the patient has already died. We cannot waste time, we cannot wait for the patient to die. The situation is grave, and we cannot allow the people to suffer like this.”