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Notes ban: PM Modi risking contempt of parliament now, warns opposition

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is violating a basic duty to update parliament on a huge decision, Left leader Sitaram Yechury said while speaking to NDTV today.

Yechury said he is in consultation with other parties about whether to initiate contempt of parliament proceedings against the PM, who has so far not spoken to lawmakers about his sudden decision to cancel Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

Expressing the sentiment shared by other opposition parties too, the Left says it is astounded at the PM's refusal to comment on his big move in parliament. "He has time to speak on television, address a pop (Coldplay) concert, but not talk in parliament?" said Rahul Gandhi today.

Yechury said the PM has spoken outside parliament on several occasions on outlawing the high-denomination notes, and is constitutionally obliged to explain the decision formally to legislators. "There is a constitutional breakdown," he added.

Since the winter session of parliament began last week, the opposition has been accusing the government of causing havoc with poor preparations to minimize the impact of withdrawing the old notes, which amounted to 86 per cent of the cash in circulation.

So far at least 70 people have died since demonetisation was introduced whose deaths have been linked by the opposition to long waits at banks or stress caused by the notes ban.

The Supreme Court earlier this week had warned "there could be riots" as it told the government to urgently find ways to alleviate the hardship caused to people.

The opposition is demanding a statement from the PM in the Rajya Sabha, where the government is in a minority.

In an emotional speech, the PM told his party's lawmakers this morning that the notes ban is "the beginning and not the end" of his crackdown on corruption.