Under Opposition fire for the way his government has pushed the demonetisation decision, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit back at detractors Friday, saying “some people”, critical of the government for not making adequate preparation, were actually “pained that the government did not give anybody any time to prepare”.
In remarks that incensed the Opposition, the Prime Minister said “had they been given even 72 hours to prepare, then they would have said there is nobody like Modi”.
Speaking at a book release function in Parliament House Annexe to commemorate Constitution Day, Modi made a strong pitch for digital banking saying “no one can take away the right of a person to use his money but it is not necessary that everytime you need to have cash in your hands to use it… there are many other types of arrangements”.
He said people can use their mobile phones as wallets and urged the media to encourage its use. “You can shop via your mobile phone as easily as you forward a message on WhatsApp,” he said.
He repeated these remarks in Bathinda at an AIIMS foundation stone laying ceremony. “You can make your mobile phone your bank, you can make your mobile phone your wallet.”
In New Delhi, the Prime Minister took on the Opposition: “These days the nation is fighting a big battle against corruption and black money. The common man has become the soldier in this battle. They feel that over 70 years, those misusing the law pushed the country into corruption, that they did it by misusing the Constitution and the law. There is very little criticism happening in the House about the decision of the government.”
“What is the criticism of some people? The criticism is that the government did not make full preparation. I think the issue is not that the government did not make full preparation. Such people are pained that the government did not give anybody any time to prepare. That is their hurt. Had they been given even 72 hours to prepare, then they would have said there is nobody like Modi.”
He said civic bodies have benefited from demonetisation. “I got details about municipal corporations in some cities. Earlier, they would get Rs 3,000-3,500 crore tax. After November 8, they have collected Rs 13,000 crore tax. This money will be used for development like construction of roads and supply of electricity,” he said.
His remarks came a day after former prime minister Manmohan Singh, while speaking in Rajya Sabha on the demonetisation debate, tore into the government, calling the entire process a “monumental mismanagement”, an “organised loot” and “legalised plunder” of the common people.
Reaching out to people in Bathinda, Modi said: “I have to bring to an end this ongoing loot and exploitation of the middle class and get the poor their rights. Whatever you do, you are asked to pay a certain amount in cheque and a certain amount in cash.” He referred to instances such as school admission, purchase of land, a visit to the doctor.
“This black money trade is eating the nation like termites. Hence, we have put a ban on currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000. New currency is coming gradually. I have no words to thank the people of the country for the hardship they have undergone. Despite facing these difficulties, you are standing by this good work, this act of honesty,” he said.