Need for maximum oppn unity, note ban a diversion: Nitish

Need for maximum oppn unity, note ban a diversion: Nitish

There is need for maximum opposition unity against BJP based on a proper agenda, Bihar Chief Nitish Kumar said today in comments that were also critical of demonetisation which he felt was done without preparation.

After initially backing the note ban decision, Kumar slammed it for the first time, saying it was done without preparation and accused the government and BJP of indulging in "diversionary tactics" by changing the narrative.

Significantly, he also appeared to be not averse to Rahul Gandhi's leadership as he said the Congress vice president should take the lead in setting the agenda and not allow BJP to do so.

Kumar's remarks on the opposition unity were shared by CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, who said such a unity should be on the basis of a common programme and not personalities.

They were participating in a panel discussion on the occasion of the launch of a book 'Fearless in Opposition', authored by senior Congress leader P Chidambaram. The book is a second collection of his articles published in the Indian Express. It was attended among others by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Gandhi besides leaders of various parties.

The Bihar Chief Minister today agreed with Singh's attack that it was a monumental management failure. "It's a fact," he said adding that the note ban decision was taken without any preparation.

He said he had welcomed it immediately because he had seen President Pranab Mukherjee suppoting it the day after the decision was announced with the objectives of eliminating black money, corruption and fake currency.

"But they (government and BJP) are experts in diverting the debate. Now they are changing the narrative to cashless society which is impossible in India," the JD(U) President said.

He also said that the demonetisaton decision itself was a diversion because the pre-election promise of putting Rs 15 lakh in each individual's bank account after bringing all the black money from abroad was haunting them and they had no achievement to show.

"The government should now disclose how much black money was collected. How much old notes came back into the system and disclose overall what were the benefits. How much success was achieved by demonetisation. Don't divert. It will achieve nothing," he said.

Kumar said the BJP-led NDA government rakes up issues and juimp from one to another because they have nothing to show for their achievements.

Referring to the title of the book, Kumar said the opposition was not afraid of anything and recalled its leaders, including him, were jailed during the Emergency.

"There is no democracy without dialogue and debate," he said and appealed to the opposition for maximum unity against the ruling BJP.

He said the opposition should not be merely reactive. It should prepare its own agenda and follow it, he added. "Why should they set the agenda? Why not Rahul Gandhi."

Kumar said when they don't have anything to show, then they indulge in debate on communalism and polarise discourse.

Asked if the opposition unity was possible and whether they would agree on a leader, Yechury said unity should be on the basis of a common agenda and not personalities.

It is not a problem of a leader as you are suggesting, he told the questioner and added that how after the fall of the Vajpayee government two prime ministers, H D Deve Gowda and I K Gujral, were chosen out of the blue.

"Personality is something very inherent in our democracy and leaders evolve," he said and recalled how questions used to be asked "after Nehru who".

Opposition unity will come on a minimum agreed programme, he said.
Answering questions, Chidambaram accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of lowering the standards of debate in Parliament, by attacking Singh in a language not befitting his office.
To a question on the breakdown of relation between the government and Congress, he said it did not happen in the past when Morarji Desai was the Prime Minister nor was it during the United Front government.

The breakdown happened now because on the very first occasion after coming to power that they would like to have "Congress-free India". That spoiled the relationship, he said, noting that Congress never called for BJP-free India.

Yechury also disapproved of the Prime Minister's language, saying it was his duty to take action against anyone guilty of anything but not issue threats like "I have the janampatri of all Congressmen."

Chidambaram also said there was divisive agenda everywhere promoted by BJP and only fearless action by opposition can stop it.

He also said that former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan was willing to continue but conditions were made for him to leave it. He also dismissed comparison on the differences he had with another governor D Subbarao, saying the latter had completed two full terms and in fact he had written a foreward to his book from which Modi quoted.

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