With Parliament paralysed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried to turn the tables on the Opposition by saying that he wasn’t being allowed to speak in the Lok Sabha and would, therefore, speak in Jan Sabhas (people’s assembly) instead.
“Mein hairaan hun. Sarkar kehti hai hum charcha chahte hein, sarkar kehti hai pradhan mantri bolne ke liye tayyar hain, sarkar kehti hai pradhan mantri aa kar ke kehne ko tayyar hain, lekin unko maalum hai unka jhooth tik nahin paata hai aur is liye woh charcha se bhaagte hain. Aur is liye Lok Sabha mein mujhe nahin bolne diya jaata, maine Jan Sabha mein bolne ka raasta chun liya hai (I am amazed. The government says we want a discussion. The government says the Prime Minister is ready to speak [in Parliament]. But they [the Opposition] know their lies will not last and so they are running away from discussion. And because I am not being allowed to speak in the Lok Sabha, I have chosen the path of addressing Jan Sabhas),” he said, adding, “Whenever I get a chance, I will try to represent the voices of all my 125 crore countrymen in the Lok Sabha.”
Speaking at a rally of farmers in Deesa town of Banaskantha district on Saturday, Modi also referred to President Pranab Mukherjee’s speech on Thursday, in which he had pulled up the Opposition for disruptions in Parliament, and said, “Parliament is not functioning; it’s not being allowed to function. You all would have seen that Parliament is not functioning. In fact, it is not being allowed to function… Our President has a lot of experience in public life… He comes from a different political ideology, but he was so saddened and anguished by what was happening in Parliament that two days ago, he had to publicly reprimand them, mention the Opposition by name and reprimand them.”
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Calling demonetisation a “tough decision”, Modi said the situation will ease after 50 days. “Mein ne pehle din se kaha tha ki yeh nirnay maamuli nahi hai. Bahut muskhil nirnay hai… Aur mein ne kaha tha bahut takleef padegi… Aur pachas din yeh takleef hogi hi hogi… Lekin pachaas din ke baad, maine hisaab kitab lagaya hai, woh dheere dheere dheere karke pehle ki jaisi sthithi ki taraf aage badhega… Paachas din ke baad aap hi dekhenge ki dhere dhere aapki aankhon ke saamne paristhiyaan sudharthi nazar aa jayegi (I have been saying from Day I that it was not an ordinary decision, it was a tough decision. I had said there would be problems. These troubles will remain for 50 days. But after 50 days – I have done my calculations – gradually, the situation will be what it was earlier. After 50 days, you will see for yourself how the situation improves),” he said.
Modi said those criticising him should instead make people aware of how they can conduct their banking transactions online. “Criticise me, highlight people’s problems, but also inform people that they do not need to stand in the queue and can use mobile banking,” he said.
Modi also likened “bade note (high-value currency)” to the rich and “chhote note (small denomination notes” to “chhote log (the poor)”. “Jaise bade note nahin chhote note ki takat badhi hai, waise bade log nahin, chhote logon ki takat badhane ke liye yeh bahut bada faisla maine kiya hai (Just as the smaller notes have been strengthened, I have taken this huge decision to empower the poor, not the rich),” he said.
He also said “small currency”, especially the Rs 100 note, had come to be valued after the high-value notes were banned. “You tell me, before November 8, what was the worth of the Rs 100, Rs 50 or the Rs 20 note… See how the country has now realised the value of the 100 rupee note, it has a new life. After November 8, nobody looks at the big notes; everybody is ready for the small note as the big note is not strong anymore.”
Pointing out how “some bank officials” had been caught for helping launder money, the PM warned that those engaging in malpractices would be punished.
Modi also claimed that demonetisation had crippled Naxalism and terrorism. “My fight is against terrorism… We all know what is happening across the border… Those who deal in fake currencies are across the border, not on this side,” Modi said. Banaskantha district, where the rally was held, shares its border with Pakistan.
The Prime Minister was in Deesa to inaugurate a number of projects, including a cheese plant, of Banas Dairy, whose chairman is state Minister for Health and Family Welfare Shankar Chaudhary.
Earlier, a few villagers had tried to block the Palanpur-Deesa highway that led to the venue of the event. Chaudhary thanked the people for making it to the venue despite alleged attempts by “Congress workers” to stop them.