'Around 60 lives have been lost since the government brought into force the demonetisation policy... we demanded that the House should also pay tribute to them... but they refused,' said Azad. Photograph:( AFP )
Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said Tuesday Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs to stop addressing public meetings and be present in parliament to address the concerns of the opposition and 130 crore Indian citizens.
"The Prime Minister comes to Parliament, sits in his chamber, but doesn't attend either the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha, which is a matter of concern not just for the Opposition, but also for the 130 crore people of this country. After all, we want to know the reason why the prime minister does not want to come to both houses, but feels free in giving speeches outside parliament," Azad told ANI.
"We said the Opposition is ready for a discussion, but a prime minister who is addressing public rallies on daily basis, should at least be present in the house," he added.
Azad further said, "The prime minister should have cancelled his public meeting after he got news of the Kanpur train tragedy. He should have thought that such a big accident had taken place and rescue operations to save passengers' lives were still on. But, the Prime Minister commenced his meeting as he was more worried about abusing the opposition, rather than saving passengers."
Shifting his focus on the Centre's demonetisation policy, he said, "Around 60 lives have been lost since the government brought into force the demonetisation policy. Children, women, elderly, farmers, and poor queue up for long time to get money. As all these lives were lost due to the wrong policy of the government, we demanded that the House should also pay tribute to them, along with the passengers who were killed in the rail mishap, but they refused."
When his response was sought on the government's claim that its drive got mass support, Azad shot back: "If they are getting support of the people, then why he (PM) is shying away from making this statement in the House. Our complaint with the prime minister is that he visits abroad, addresses public meetings in Goa, Agra and other places; now Parliament is in session, but he is not attending."
"The prime minister has taken such a big decision of demonetisation when parliament was not in session and that is why it becomes his prime responsibility that when parliament started functioning, he should have made statements in both houses on the very first day," he added.
Meanwhile, leaders of opposition parties will meet in Parliament at 9.30 am today.