In his first public remarks on demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes since the November 8 announcement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned on Saturday that there could be more measures against black money after the December-end deadline to deposit the scrapped currency.
In his speech lasting around 26 minutes, where he linked people bearing the inconvenience caused due to long queues at banks and ATMs with Japanese tackling the aftermath of the Fukushima earthquake of 2011, for “national interest”, Modi indicated for the first time that there could be more steps against black money.
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“Kuchch log sochte honge ki 30 December ke baad… toh aaj main phir se ailaan karna chahunga, ki yeh scheme poori hone ke baad, koi doosra kuchch aapko thikaney lagane ke liye nahin aayega, iski guarantee nahin hai (Some people think that after December 30, this all will end. I want to declare this once again that after the end of this scheme, there is no guarantee that something else will not be introduced to get rid of such people),” he said, to a round of applause from a gathering of around 500 NRIs, who have been living in Japan for decades.
Earlier in the day, the PM said black money to the tune of Rs 1.25 lakh crore had been unearthed over the last two years of his government.
Sixteenth minutes into his speech to the NRI gathering, Modi said, “Aap mujhe bataiye, chori ka maal nikalna chahiye ya nahin nikalna chahiye (You tell me, whether money that has been stolen should be exposed or not)?” The audience roared, “Nischit… chahiye (Yes, definitely).”
Stressing that honest people would not face any trouble, Modi said, “Main ye baat ko spasht maanta hoon ki bina hisaab ka agar kuchch aaya haath, toh uska desh jab se azad huya, uska hisaab check karney waala hoon (I believe this very clearly that, if anything unaccounted comes up, I will check its records going back to Independence).”
He added, “We will deploy as many people as required for this. Honest people will not face any problem. No one will be spared. Those who know me, they are intelligent as well. They think it is better to offer it in the Ganga than in banks.”
The PM referred to the people struggling at banks and ATMs at the beginning of his speech. “I used to think whether it is possible or not that people will bear the inconvenience for national interest… It is a new experience for me,” he said, turning to the crowd to ask, “Kaunsa wala (Which one)?” “Paanch sau wala,” the crowd, which reacted to his speech with applause and laughter more than a dozen times, replied.
“I salute my countrymen,” the PM went on. “People stood in line for four hours, six hours but accepted the decision in national interest the way people of Japan tackled the aftermath of the 2011 disaster… I salute each and every Indian. Many families had weddings, their mothers were ailing… they faced inconvenience, but they accepted the decision.”
Modi said that despite these problems, and despite attempts to provocate them, the common man was not abusing him. “Log moohn mein ungli daal daal ke kehte the… Modi ko kuchch bolo, kuchch Modi ke khilaaf bolo (People are egging them on… say something to Modi, say something against Modi).”
He said he had deliberated a lot on the demonetisation. “I thought long and hard about the possible difficulties, and it was also important to keep it a secret. It had to be done suddenly. But I never thought I will receive blessings for this.”
Modi claimed there were cases of sons and daughters-in-law depositing money up to Rs 2.5 lakh in their mothers’ accounts staying in old age homes. “After blessings from mothers like these, it is certain to be successful.”
Modi reached Kobe from Tokyo on Saturday afternoon, with he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe taking a train ride on the famed high-speed Shinkansen, more popularly known as the bullet train.
After having lunch at the local governor’s house, they also visited the Kawasaki factory, which builds coaches for the bullet trains.