PRIME MINISTER Narendra Modi on Sunday appealed to the people to support the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, asking them to bear the “pain” for “50 days” to help him deliver the “India of your dreams”. He also reiterated his warning that several other “projects” were being plannned to check corruption, including action against benami property.
“I have taken the nation into confidence. You have the right to be angry. On the first day itself, I said there will be problems. Lakhs of honest people have been standing in line. Is it not the government’s duty to protect the honest? If we have to struggle for 50 days to weed out the corrupt, should we not do it,’’ said Modi, addressing an event to mark the 100th anniversary of the Karnataka Lingayat Education Society in Belgaum.
“There is pain due to my decision, but there is more gain. I will stand with you,’’ he said. “There may be fights in queues to obtain tickets for films, but people are cooperating in this effort. The whole country is standing in line peacefully,’’ he claimed.
Earlier in the day, he made an emotional appeal in Panaji, as he asked people to give him 50 days to weed out black money and corruption. “if you find anything wrong with my intentions or my actions, I am willing to suffer any punishment… I promise you I will give you the India of your dreams. If someone faces problem, I also feel the pain. I understand their problem but this is only for 50 days, and after 50 days we succeed in this cleansing,” he said.
He said he was ready to face the consequences of his move. “I know that (some) forces are up against me, they may not spare me, they may ruin me because their loot of 70 years is in trouble. But it does not bother me, as long as it is for the betterment of the country,” he said. “I was not born to occupy the high chair. I have left my village, my family for the sake of the country,” said Modi.
“It is my prayer that if you trust me, then you must give your blessings for the good deed (punya kaam) I have set out to do. Please stand up and clap. Your blessings will help,’’ he appealed to the crowd in Belgaum.
“On November 8, at 8 pm, you saw a step being taken to end the corruption scams you saw in 2011, 2012, 2013. There used to be news about the coal scam, 2G scam and so much corruption. After the November 8 announcement, you saw what happened. Those involved in corruption had to stand in line to exchange Rs 4,000,’’ he said. “On November 8, when the poor were sleeping peacefully, the corrupt were reaching for sleeping pills to help them to sleep,’’ he said.
The Prime Minister also tried to bolster the faith of people in the Indian currency system, stating the government would honour its pledge to give value for the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. “This government will not harass the honest, but will not allow the dishonest to go scot free. Has the country not been looted in the last 70 years?’’ he asked.
Saying the demontisation move took 10 months, he said it had to be kept a secret because the dishonest would have otherwise been able to convert their money. “Those who have heard my speeches know that I have said that high value notes will be curbed,’’ he said. “In my Mann ki Baat talks, I have spoken about the need for a cashless society, that credit and debit card transactions are needed. The Government of India has removed taxes on cashless transactions. We did it because we wanted to implement this current policy.
With Jan Dhan, we have given 20 crore people RuPay cards. We did it two years ago, so people can use it now,’’ said Modi. “The malaise of black money runs very deep and is very serious, because the country has been afflicted by this malaise for 70 years. All are afflicted. I have been giving small dosages of medicine to cure this malaise. Now I have given a strong dosage,’’ he said. “These people keep asking the question ‘what has Modi done’. Now you know what I did on November 8,’’ he added.
The Prime Minister compared the demonitisation process to the period before elections, when the entire government machinery gets ready for smooth conduct of elections. “During elections, all government energy is focussed on conducting the elections. For nearly 90 days, the government is engaged in this and nearly 70 to 80 per cent vote in the end. When the election process of 90 days can be endured, what we are asking for is only 50 days of inconvenience for the sake of the country,’’ the Prime Minister said.
Thanking people for their support, he said, “Even Ganga Ma is surprised… people who did not spare a paise are throwing lakhs of rupees in the river. A widowed mother who complained that her son and daughter-in-law never visited her is now blessing me, as her children are pursuing her to deposit lakhs of rupees in her name,” said Modi.
“When Congress stopped 25 paise, did we say anything? You could dare to stop only 25 paise, that’s what your power was limited to. But you did not make higher denomination currency notes illegal… We did it. People have chosen a government and they expect so much from it,” he said.
Modi said the 2014 elections had given his party the mandate to cleanse the economy, and his government was fulfilling this. “We had to either make new agreement with countries, or modify the existing ones which posed a hurdle in procuring instant information of unaccounted cash. I even had to convince America to share the information,” he said. Modi claimed that over 50 per cent of parliamentarians approached him when his government made it compulsory to declare PAN card numbers for purchase of gold over Rs 2 lakh.