Striking back at critics of his government’s demonetisation move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday said he had never imagined that “some political parties, some political leaders” would “brazenly take sides with the dishonest”. Comparing the Opposition din during the winter session of Parliament to “cover fire” provided by Pakistan to “push infiltrators into India”, he said the ruckus was intended to provide “cover to the dishonest”.
Speaking at the Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, Modi also took swipes at Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi who a day earlier had accused him of receiving money from the Sahara and Aditya Birla groups when he was Gujarat Chief Minister. Referring to Rahul’s earlier remark that there would be an “earthquake” if he were to disclose the “information” he had on the Prime Minister, Modi said now that the Congress leader has spoken — he did not name him — “there is no chance of an earthquake since people of the country have understood”.
“They have a young leader who is learning to deliver speeches. There has been no limit to my happiness ever since he has learnt to speak, and has started speaking. In 2009, you couldn’t tell what was inside the packet and what was not. Now we know what it has and what it doesn’t,” he said.
“He had been going around threatening that if he were to speak, there would be an earthquake. If he hadn’t spoken, there could have been an earthquake. It would have been an earthquake that people would have had to deal with for ten years. Now that he has spoken, there is no chance of an earthquake since people of the country have understood,” he said.
The Prime Minister, who described himself as “Kashi ka bachcha”, targeted the Opposition for criticising the demonetisation move, saying he was happy that the exercise to eliminate “kala dhan” had exposed the “kala mann” of several people.
“When I was applying my mind, planning this entire exercise, I never imagined that some political parties, some political leaders would brazenly take sides with the dishonest. This didn’t figure in my calculation. I never thought this was possible (Mein jab is poore kaam ke liye dimaag khapa raha tha, yojana bana raha tha, kabhi socha nahin tha desk ke kuchch rajnitik dal, desk ke kuchch rajneta himmat ke saath beimanon ke saath khade ho jayenge. Yeh maine hisaab nahin lagaya tha. Maine socha hi nahin tha yeh sambhav hai).”
“What does Pakistan do when it sends infiltrators into India? It starts firing on the border. Then our Army also starts (firing). This goes on. When both sides are facing each other, they (infiltrators) cross over and enter. They get cover. The dishonest. You must have seen how charges were traded in Parliament. So from behind, these people… Now I realise who this ruckus was intended to help,” he said.
(Pakistan jab ghuspetiyon ko Hindustan mein bhejta hai to kya karta hai? Woh seema par firing shuru kar deta hai. Toh phir hamari fauj bhi shuru ho jaati hai. Unke saath idhar-udhar chalti rahti hai, aamne-saamne. Aur woh lapak kar ghus jaate hain. Unko cover mil jaata hai. Beimanon ko. In dinon, sansad me aapne dekha hoga tu-tu mai-mai. Toh in logon ko peechche se… Mujhe ab samajh me aaya ki ye ho-halla kiski bhalai ke liye kiya ja raha hai)
The Prime Minister also hit out at his predecessor Manmohan Singh and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, saying their arguments against a cashless economy in the country was actually a report card of their own performance while in power.
“When I say that work can be done without wads of currency in your pocket… and when I speak of cashless, he (Manmohan Singh) says how can this technology work in a country where 50 per cent of the people are poor. Now you tell me, is he giving his report card or mine?
Whose is this legacy of 50 per cent poor people that I have to deal with? Manmohan Singhji, we take your words seriously. You have been Prime Minister. It makes me happy that you are presenting your report card,” he said.
Modi said not many people know that Singh had been part of the “core team” that managed the economy “since 1970-1972”. “For such a long time, such skill, no taint on him. Everything happens (Itne lambe samai tak, itni kushalta dekho, koi daag un par nahin lagta hai. Hota sab hai)”.
He also targeted Chidambaram “who was Finance Minister and writes articles” for stating that cashless transactions are not feasible in India where 50 per cent villages have no electricity. “Was electricity there? Or did I go and uproot electric poles or snap cables in villages which had electricity,” he said.