Political parties slammed the government in the Lok Sabha on Thursday over the sliding rupee, which has breached the Rs 68 to a US dollar mark, and demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh make a statement on the issue.
When the House met for the day, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj sought Speaker Meira Kumar's permission to speak during Question Hour on the continuous fall in the value of the rupee.
"Day before yesterday there was a debate in the House on the state of the economy in which the Finance Minister gave a long speech enumerating 10 steps and maintained that if these are implemented the economy will improve. After this the confidence of the country and the investors should have increased by at least 10-20 paise but it has actually fallen," Swaraj said.
"The country's reputation is attached to the Rupee...We want a statement from the Prime Minister, who is a renowned economist. Those having Ph.Ds in economics are not able to handle the economy," she said, adding the PM should clarify whether the Rupee slide will stop or it will continue to fall.
SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav held the government responsible for the slide in the rupee. He said some fall in the rupee over a period of time is understandable but it has continuously gone down.
"This is due to the wrong policies of the government. The budget of this year was also against the policies," he said, adding that in 1991, India had to pledge gold and today the world is eyeing India's gold again.
Sougat Roy (TMC), who had given notice for an adjournment motion to discuss the devaluation of the rupee, said the "drastic fall in the rupee's value is causing concern at the national and the international level".
In the ten steps enumerated by the Finance Minister to improve the economy, there was no mention of anything on checking the cascading fall of the rupee which is going over the roof, Roy said.
He maintained that passage of the Food Security Bill has led to fears that the fiscal deficit will increase. Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said it was devaluation of the currency that led to disintegration of USSR. "Every month the government says things will improve... The country is sinking and the Prime Minister should clarify," he said.
Basudeb Acharia (CPI-M) said the liberal economic policy of the government is responsible for the crisis. Dara Singh Chauhan (BSP), Namo Nageshwar Rao (TDP) and Asaduddin Owaisi (MIM) also demanded a statement from the PM.
Rubbishing Finance Minister P Chidambaram's contention that the economy is in a bad shape as the country's polity is divided, BJP said before accusing the opposition the government should bury its differences as it is a divided House.
"Government is not able to take decisions as the Cabinet does not have unanimity of issues," Swaraj said.
BJP also charged that Chidambaram has in a subtle manner put the blame for the economy on his predecessor Pranab Mukherjee. "The Finance Minister wanted to pass the blame on his predecessor who is now the President of India," she said.
Swaraj alleged that whenever the government faces a problem it seeks to hold allies like A Raja (DMK) and Sharad Pawar (NCP) responsible. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath assured the House that the PM will speak on the issue tomorrow. "We recognise the concern of the members over the fall of the Rupee," he said.
However, this did not satisfy the BJP, Left parties and SAD, among others. Members were on their feet and demanded that the PM make the statement today itself. "He has to prepare the statement. He has to study the statement," Nath said. When the members continued to agitate, the Speaker adjourned the House till noon.