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Hitting back at the Congress and other Opposition parties for opposing his government’s move to demonetise higher denomination currency notes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday urged people to bear some inconvenience to root out corruption. He agreed the demonetisation decision was somewhat ‘kadak’ (strong). But he linked it to his ‘chaiwallah’ background. “When I was young, poor people used to tell me: Modiji, chai jara kadak banana.” He said he knows the same ‘kadak chai’ doesn’t go down well with the rich. Addressing a BJP Parivartan Yatra rally in Ghazipur in eastern Uttar Pradesh, the Prime Minister said because of the decision “gareeb chayn ki neend so raha hai aur amir neend ki goliyan khareedne ke liye bazaar mein chakkar kaat raha hai (the poor are getting sound sleep while the restless rich are searching the markets for sleeping pills).
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He slammed the Congress for imposing Emergency and “turning the country into a prison for 19 months” to keep Indira Gandhi in power. Saying he only wanted 50 days — the December 30 deadline for depositing the invalidated notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 — he appealed to people to put up with some inconvenience in the larger interest of the country.
“Arre Congresswalon ne to apni kursi ke liye 19 mahine desh ko jailkhana bana diya tha, mein ne toh gareebon ki khushi ke liye 50 din thodi si takleef jhelne ki prarthana ki hai.” He recalled the curbs on the press during the Emergency and said Congress leaders and police extorted money from people by threatening them with arrest. “And you are asking me questions?” Some political parties, he said, were so troubled by the demonetisation move that they have been asking “what to do now”.
Congress leaders, he said, want to know under which law has he demonetised Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes. Yet it was the Congress government, he said, which had invalidated the 25 paise coin without consulting anyone. “Yeh theek hai aap chavanni (25 paise) se aage chal nahin paate. Aapne apni barabari ka kaam kiya, humne hamari barabari ka kaam kiya (what you did was in line with your stature, I did what befits my stature.)”
Modi said he wants to know from politicians whether they agree counterfeit notes should be out of circulation in the fight against terrorism, Naxalism and extremism. He said had he not gone after Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, counterfeit currency could not have been eliminated. “Jab se Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 par hamla kiya hai, yeh pareshan hain, yeh payment nahin kar pa rahen hain.”
He said rumours were being spread that Modi would take all the money that women had saved to get daughters married. Asking them to deposit the money in banks, he said no tax official will ask them for the source of Rs 2.5 lakh: “Meri mataon, behnon, jab tak tumhara yeh bhai zinda hai, jab tak tumhara yeh laadla zinda hai, aap vishwas kijiye, aapki kadi mehnat se ikhatta paise par koi sarkari afsar aankh nahin laga payega.”
“But will I spare those who have Rs 2.5 crore? Those who have hidden money in beds? Those who have stuffed money in gunny bags?” Income Tax officials, he said, had recovered Rs 3 crore from the bed of a government employee in Madhya Pradesh. “I-T will take many years if it goes searching every house. Dishonest people will find ways to escape and will shift their money to another place.”
He said in the cities, people were moving in cars, their faces covered, throwing notes in garbage dumps. “Yeh gareebon ka paisa hai, tumne loota hai. Mein lootne nahin doonga… Arre paapiyon, Ganga me note bahakar aapka paap dhulne wala nahin hai,” he said.
He also had a swipe at BSP chief Mayawati who had once been garlanded with currency notes by her party workers. “Woh noton ki malayein….aisi-aisi mala lagti thi, mundi bhi nahin dikhti thi,” he said.
He said he understands the problems people are facing because of the demonetisation move. “Koi kaam karo toh takleef to thodi bahut hoti hai. Irada nek hona chahiye (the intention should be good).”