Facing opposition onslaught, government on Wednesday put up a strong defence in Rajya Sabha on demonetisation, saying the step was taken in national interest to end corruption and black money, which it is said is also used for terror activities in the country. Power Minister Piyush Goyal, who spoke on behalf of the ruling side after Congress leader Anand Sharma slammed the government, rejected as baseless the opposition charge that there was “leakage” of the decision and said everyone was taken by surprise which is why there are “initial” problems.
“There is no politics in it. It is a step taken in national interest,” he said, adding the step will help the country in the long run.
“If anyone has the strength to take on black money and corruption, it is the BJP government and Narendra Modi,” the minister said.
He claimed that common people are out in support of the government’s move which is aimed against graft and terror and that the step will lead to curbing inflation and tax rate may come down.
Goyal claimed that the country has welcomed this initiative of the Modi government and it is natural that some people who have black money and are indulging in corruption and blackmoney are worried about it.
“Desh me imandaar ka samman hua hai aur be-imaan ka nuksaan hua hai, (The honest have been honoured and the dishonest have faced losses),” he said.
“I am confident that public is understanding the initial problems because the decision was kept a secret. No honest tax-payer will lose a single rupee. The loss will be of those who have amassed wealth through corruption and black money and the public should also support the government in the move,” he said.
Goyal said some pain and difficulty in the implementation of such a decision is inevitable but despite that the people have strongly supported the move.
He urged all the parties to support the move so that the House gives a message to the country that all are against corruption and black money.
To Sharma’s charge that those questioning the government are labelled as anti-national, he said, “Understandably if someone opposes it (demonetisation), questions will be raised on whether they are against ending the menace of corruption and black money in the country.”
Taking a dig at the opposition, he said, “We thought all political parties will support us in Parliament. But for some reasons they have opposed the move. It seems they are worried due to the large public favouring it and supporting the government despite the problems being faced by them.”
Goyal also said BJP has already put out its poll expenses on the website and after this step all will think before indulging in corruption and black marketing.
Goyal said when the NDA government assumed charge in 2014, the country was embroiled in corruption and scams. Now the Modi government has taken a step, through which he has met the “expectations” of the people, the minister added.
“There are some people who are unhappy over it. This is an important step in the war against graft, terror and drugs and political parties should be happy over it,” he said.
Justifying the move, Goyal also claimed that from the documents and reports available, the RBI had realised that a large quantum of money was not circulating or coming to the chests and analysed that this money was hidden.
“Now the government cannot give a specific figure for this. But the RBI gave a proposal to the government and it came before the Cabinet, which approved the move,” Goyal said.
“There is no curb on honestly-earned money. So nobody should have a problem,” he added.
Responding to issues raised by the opposition, Goyal said some people have been saying that seven or ten days’ time should have been given. “Secrecy is most important for such a step,” he added.
Listing the benefits of the move, Goyal said interest rates will come down, inflation would be curbed and even the tax rate will come down.
“If 5 people don’t pay tax, the brunt is borne by the rest of 95 percent people. And if taxes are paid, there will be more money with the Centre to carry out welfare works for farmers, women, SC and ST sections,” he added.
With regard to allegations that the move has been timed to benefit BJP in the UP elections, he said such a statement itself implies that people support this step.
To demands that the government should declare the names of people who have Swiss Bank accounts, Goyal said such a step will make it difficult for government to obtain more information about such accounts.
But some people want the government to make the error of declaring these names and then it will have difficulty in getting this information, Goyal claimed.